Anyone who thought Barack Obama’s announcement that he is preparing to bid for the Democratic presidential nomination would scare off other prospective candidates will be set straight before the weekend is done.
New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who would if elected be the first woman president, announced in a videotaped statement posted this morning on her campaign website that she is filing the paperwork necessary to create an exploratory committee — the traditional first step in rolling out a presidential campaign.
“I’m in. And I’m in to win,” Clinton tells supporters, adding that, “I’m not just starting a campaign, though, I’m beginning a conversation with you, with America. Let’s talk. Let’s chat. The conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don’t you think?”
Those who suspect that Clinton is moving up her launch in order to steal some of Obama’s thunder before the Sunday talk shows get all wrapped up in an Obamania conversation would, of course, be right.
Until Obama came along, the former First Lady was the acknowledged frontrunner in the race. In fact, most of the talk was about which candidate would emerge as “the anti-Hillary.” Now, the speculation has shifted to the question of whether Obama might actually be the frontrunner.
That’s a conversation that Clinton wants to change — quickly.
Clinton’s decision to announce the formation of an exploratory committee represents the first formal indication that her much-anticipated run is going forward, and it will end speculation about the prospect that she might yet choose to remain in the Senate. (That speculation, a favorite of some D.C. pundits, never gained much credibility among Democrats at the grassroots, who were well aware of the Clinton team’s machinations in early caucus and primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire; at the same time that Obama was making his announcement, Clinton was making personal calls to key Democratic activists in those states.)
But Clinton is not the only Democrat taking steps toward a presidential run this weekend. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who if elected would be the first Hispanic president, is indicating that he will make an announcement on Sunday. A Richardson bid would be especially significant in the early stages of the fight for the nomination, as Democrats in the western state of Nevada — where the New Mexican is well known, and potentially something of a regional favorite — will be among the first to weigh in on the race.