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Hillary Clinton launches fundraising for 2012 already!

July 16, 2008 |  4:07 am

Just six weeks after reluctantly surrendering to Barack Obama in the brutal 2008 Democratic primary race, Sen. Hillary Clinton has begun raising money for what she says is her 2012 New York Senate reelection campaign.

Clinton still faces about $20 million in debts from her unsuccessful presidential effort this year. As part of a so-called "unity drive," Obama has appealed to his supporters in recent weeks to give to Clinton to cover the costs that she incurred while raking him over the coals in a bare-knuckled bid to return to the White House. Some Obama backers have balked.

Sen Hillary Clinton who lost the Democratic presidential primary race just 6 weeks ago to Barack Obama is already launching fundraising for 2012

Clinton has also asked her donors to contribute to the massive general election fundraising effort of Obama, who changed his mind and has rejected federal funding. Some Clinton backers have balked.

Now, the New York Observer is reporting early this morning that the former first lady has sent out a special message to supporters who donated up to $2,300 to her anticipated 2008 general election campaign. Since there won't be one, she must return that money to the donors by Aug. 28, unless she gets their permission not to.

Her new appeal includes a photocopy of a handwritten note from Clinton that says: "Dear friend, your commitment has meant so much to me over the course of my presidential campaign. You were there for me when I needed you the most and I'll never forget it. I hope you'll help me continue to fight for the issues and causes we believe in by filling out the enclosed form in support of Friends of Hillary."

The form, once signed, allows Clinton staff to transfer the money from the 2008 general election fund into the 2012 senate reelection treasury, where it can earn four years' of interest. The report comes from Jason Horowitz of the Observer's Politiker blog.

If successful, this early fundraising, while unusual, can have the effect of scaring off any serious Republican challengers in New York. And help keep Clinton supporters in her camp and full of hope after the close call this primary season.

And, if memory serves, when Clinton had about $10 million left over from her successful 2006 Senate reelection campaign, she shifted those funds as starter cash over to her nascent presidential effort last year.

Hmmm. Not that any ambitious politician would think this far ahead. But if Obama was to, say, lose a close election in November to Clinton's close friend, John McCain, the new president would be 72 on Inauguration Day next Jan. 20.

That would make him really pretty old for anything other than maybe perhaps one term, which would leave things wide open in 2012 for, say, a former Arkansas first lady who happens to be only 60 right now. And might have an ample senate campaign fund suitable for transferring into a presidential fund.

But that's absolutely ridiculous to think about now. As is, of course, having three major Democratic fundraising campaigns underway at the same time.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Associated Press

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