By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON -- A growing number of Massachusetts politicos looking beyond the mid-term sorties for federal offices this fall plan to greet Hillary Clinton with open arms if she vies for the presidency.
"Let's say it nice and loud so if she's listening she will hear us: Hillary, we want you to run. Please get out there and be our president in 2016," Taunton Democrat Sen. Marc Pacheco bellowed to a roomful of Clinton supporters at the bar The Vault on Thursday night.
Former Congressman Barney Frank told the News Service he has never seen such excitement for a candidate so long before an election, and when asked, speculated that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren harbors White House ambitions as well - an aspiration she has repeatedly denied.
"This is a greater level of enthusiasm for a presidential candidate this far out than I can ever remember," Frank told the News Service. Asked whether Warren has any inclination to seek the presidency, Frank said, "Oh I think yes. In the first place, why would you want to get into a profession and have no interest in rising to the top of it? I don't know anybody who has that."
Frank said Clinton would be unchallenged in a Democratic primary if she decides to run, and said it is "very unlikely" that Clinton would not run in 2016.
Warren's embrace of issues - such as bank regulation and student loan reform - gear her more towards a presidential run than elevation to Senate majority leader, Frank said.
"She is an issues leader. When you are a leader of the House or the Senate, it's a tradeoff. You get more authority but you lose a little of your independence," Frank said.
Warren has been asked repeatedly whether she wants to run for president and has repeatedly and unequivocally said she does not.
Clinton was seen as the favorite for the Democratic nomination seven years ago before now-President Barack Obama won the 2008 primaries. A graduate of Wellesley University, Clinton will give the keynote address at a Simmons College leadership forum on Wednesday.
National Republicans reportedly hope to hold their convention in June, creating a shorter primary season where the party could more quickly coalesce around their nominee.
The Thursday night event was organized by Ready for Hillary, a so-called super-PAC that can take in unlimited donations. Pacheco told the News Service the PAC was spending its money on organizing, growing its rolls of volunteers who would be ready to go to work for the candidate when and if she enters the race. Pacheco also said the political action committee could play a role in 2014 races.
In 2008 when she was running against Obama, Clinton won the presidential primary in Massachusetts 56-40.6 percent. The former first lady and U.S. senator whom Obama appointed as the nation's top diplomat, lost in Boston and Cambridge, but did exceptionally well in old industrial cities.
Clinton's biggest victory was in Fall River, where she won 76.8 percent of the vote, according to the state's PD43 election results database. Clinton also ran up the score in Revere (76.5), Everett (73.2) and Lawrence (73.5) while winning the state's second and third largest cities, Worcester (62.2) and Springfield (50.2). Fall River was no outlier in southeastern Massachusetts, which was part of Frank's congressional district. Clinton won by more than 70 percent in Acushnet, Swansea, Somerset, Taunton and New Bedford.
"The theme of the evening is that we are here to try to persuade her to run. I think that's probably one of the easier jobs," Frank told the crowd, praising Clinton and saying, "I'm here because I'm a great admirer of Hillary Clinton."
Democrats have railed against judicial decisions that have allowed more money to flow into politics, unchecked. Ready for Hillary cites as precedent for its unlimited donations SpeechNOW v. the Federal Elections Commission, a March 2010 Appeals Court decision that found contribution limits to independent expenditure political groups are a violation of the First Amendment. The Tennessean quoted Frank in a recent speech saying, "The decision to allow money freely to flow influencing elections subverts democracy."
"I don't believe in unilateral disarmament," Frank said. Citing the more famous U.S. Supreme Court case, Frank said, "I think it's a problem that Citizens United was decided, but the worst case would be if only the people who believed in it used it. That doesn't make any sense at all."
Clinton spent eight years in the White House with her husband former President Bill Clinton. She stepped down as secretary of state as Obama began his second term. The FEC lists a range of PACs seemingly aiming to return her to Pennsylvania Avenue, including Hillaryftw, Hillary 2016, Time for Hillary and Hillarypac as well as groups with seemingly contrary purposes, such as Just Say No To Hillary Pac, Dick Morris' Just Say No To Hillary Pac and Stop Hillary PAC.