Democratic fundraising guru and former National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe officially opened Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign offices Friday. The Savannah Highway HQ was well-lit, with some 50 “Hillary for President” signs in the yard (there may have been more red and blue than green on that lawn). McAuliffe asked local religious leaders to pray for the campaign and quizzed anxious college students about whether they were “pumped up for Hillary.”
The jockeying by other states to get ahead in the primary calendar began when McAuliffe himself pushed South Carolina to the beginning in the ’90s. He says the growing number of primaries being held on Feb. 5, just days after South Carolina, makes our state even more important.
“With this new compressed calendar, it’s going to go so fast it’ll be over by Feb. 5,” he says. “I think that magnifies the importance of South Carolina. It’s also a southern state that will prove Hillary can win all over the country.”
While Clinton leads in 36 of 38 states that are currently polling, McAuliffe says they’re not taking anything for granted.
“We never view ourselves as frontrunners,” he says. “They would talk about Hillary’s inevitability, and I would cringe. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re running like we’re 20 points down.”
A quick scan of the audience at the opening showed Hillary’s support among women, and McAuliffe says that is something the campaign is hoping to grow.
“People aren’t going to like Hillary because she’s a woman, but because she’s strong, she’s tough, and she’s experienced,” he says. “But the idea of us having a woman president is so exciting.”
That growth may come one red sedan at a time. A college student showed up in her roommate’s car with an Obama sticker on the back. “My roommate is going to kill me,” she said as she drove off, the “Obama” gone and “Hillary” gracing the rear windshield.