When I read that the super PAC Ready for Hillary held its first national finance council strategy session this week—almost three years ahead of the 2016 election—I was green with envy.
And any other Republican who wants to win back the White House in 2016 should be as well.
As reported in The New York Times, the meet-up was attended by the high command of the campaign-in-waiting and 170 donors.
So why should Republicans like myself be envious? The reasons are simple.
A presidential campaign in the second decade of the 21st century resembles a billion-dollar start-up business with satellite operations in all 50 states. Years of preparation are needed to plan, plot, finance, organize, message, build the grass roots and IT infrastructure, manage the media and social media, and precisely target-market millions of potential customers known as voters.
This flurry of activity is happening as Clinton, the presumptive CEO, has not even officially signed on and, in a weird twist from a normal business startup, also happens to be the “product.”
Eventually, and probably no later than early 2015, when the CEO as product officially signs on, Ready for Hillary will morph into something like “Ready to Roll.”
It is a given that Hillary’s presidential announcement event will suck up every ounce of media bandwidth on the planet. However, far more damaging will be the operational business of Hillary 2016 Inc., with electoral advantages roughly equivalent to what GOP candidates would have faced if they were running against an incumbent president.
Surely, by early 2015 some of the higher profile GOP presidential aspirants will have socked away a few million dollars. (I am basing this assumption on the calls from Rand-PAC frequently displayed on my caller ID.) But stacked up next to Hillary Inc. even tens of millions backed by a small organization is like comparing the shelves of a mom and pop corner store to all the inventory in every Wal-Mart nationwide.
Obama had similar organizational advantages in the general elections of 2008 and 2012 when McCain’s and Romney’s campaigns paled in comparison, and all Republicans know how well those turned out.
A fair assumption is whoever wins the 2016 GOP nomination will be at a severe organizational disadvantage because Ready for Hillary started building 2016 campaign infrastructure in 2013.
Furthermore, Ready for Hillary is employing some of Obama’s campaign gurus, including battleground state strategist Mitch Stewart, who is helping Hillaryland build the most high-tech, social media savvy, demographically attuned campaign the world has even seen.
The hundreds of millions of dollars waiting to fuel this mission were being organized at the New York meeting with Clinton donors champing at the bit and “ready to bundle.”
Not only do I fear Hillary because of the organizational and financial tsunami that would drown any Republican presidential candidate in its path, but a worse fear is based on how most of my Republican friends think my Hillary fears are overblown.
Their reaction to Hillary can be summed up like this:
- She will be too old.
- Remember Benghazi.
- Obama and Obamacare will be so unpopular that Obama will hurt Hillary’s chances. (Bill Clinton’s distancing dance has already begun.)
- People are sick of the Clintons.
- Obamacare equals Hillarycare.
- She lost the primary in 2008 to an unknown and probably will again.
- She won’t run because of health reasons.
But my greatest fear is how the Republican Party will tear itself apart.
In one corner is the Tea Party and conservative wing that is jazzed up for either Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. They are the primary voting base and are determined to stop a “moderate” like Chris Christie from becoming the nominee.
Words cannot describe how much Christie is despised by Tea Party conservatives. Thus, you can expect a third-party movement to emerge if Christie somehow manages to secure the 2016 GOP nomination.
So while Ready for Hillary held its first finance committee strategy session, the 2016 Republican battle lines were being formed for the inevitable GOP Civil War.
Which poses the question: How will Republicans be Ready for Hillary when we are fighting each other?