Quietly, Hillary Clinton supporters taking stock in S.C.
Earlier this month, the S.C. Democratic Women's Council held its fall forum in Columbia, where "Electing Democratic Women" was one of the discussion topics for the 100 or so in attendance.
A co-sponsor of the event was a low-key but nationally focused political action committee that has been actively pushing to see Hillary Clinton elected president in 2016.
"Ready for Hillary," which operates without her official approval, made a financial donation toward putting the gathering on, though council president Susan Smith of Pawleys Island declined to say how much it was.
Smith did say that she's ready and waiting for the announcement that Clinton will run for the White House.
"I think we're all excited about the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president," she said.
Clinton is months away from declaring her intent. But just like in other states, a quiet effort is underway in South Carolina to build support for the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
Part of the effort is being led by the Ready for Hillary super PAC, which is expected to do much of the early legwork for the next year or so while Clinton plots strategy. That includes appearing at rallies wherever Democrats get together.
"Our main goal is to build an army of supporters and create a database of volunteers and activists who can be activated the minute she makes a decision," said Seth Brigman, a spokesman with Ready for Hillary, on collecting names, emails and phone lists here.
"In South Carolina that's very important because it is an early primary state," he added.
Among South Carolina Democrats who will take part in the party's 2016 primary, Clinton remains the anecdotal favorite, largely because timely Democratic polling in this Red state is rare, and the other Democrats in the running have far less name recognition.
Also considering a run are Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, just to name a few.
College of Charleston political scientist Kendra Stewart said any effort, no matter how small, can earn dividends.
"It's never too early to start raising money or building a network," she said.
Stewart said Clinton supporters, like those for any serious presidential hopeful, will start getting the wheels going in every state "or at least the states that matter in the primary."
Clinton's first foray into South Carolina, early in the 2008 presidential campaign, didn't go smoothly. Part of that furor was sparked by former President Bill Clinton's comments when he appeared here as his wife's surrogate and ventured into how race was being injected into the battle by the Obama campaign. At least half the turnout was forecast to be black voters.
Referring to his wife and Obama, Bill Clinton was quoted as saying at the time, "They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender, and that's why people tell me that Hillary doesn't have a chance to win here."
Clinton finished a distant second in the 2008 primary with a 27-percent following in the eight-way South Carolina race in which Obama won with a convincing 55-percent finish.
While Clinton supporters are out early and active, some voters said that concentrating solely on a presidential primary still more than two years away also has to be kept in perspective.
Smith, for example, said next year's gubernatorial campaign by Democrat Vincent Sheheen against Republican Nikki Haley still ranks as her immediate priority.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551