Hillary Clinton Iowa Steak-Fry Appearance Fuels 2016 Talk

Hillary Clinton will return to the political circuit next month by headlining Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry in Indianola, Iowa, the former secretary of state’s most public campaign-style venture since she helped Barack Obama win the presidency in 2008.

Harkin, a Democrat who is retiring next January after five Senate terms, has turned the end-of-summer steak fry into a proving ground for presidential candidates in advance of his home state’s first-in-the nation caucuses every four years.

“She’s looking forward to campaigning for her Democratic friends and colleagues and to helping the effort to move America forward, including a stop to see her old friend and colleague Senator Harkin to help raise money for important races in Iowa,” Nick Merrill, Clinton’s spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Her appearance at the Sept. 14 event will fuel speculation that she will seek the presidency in 2016 after serving four years as Obama’s top diplomat and publishing a memoir.

The early frontrunner for the Democratic nomination and the leader in head-to-head match-ups with prospective Republican candidates, Clinton has said she is considering whether to run. Her backers have formed a political action committee that is laying the groundwork for a campaign.

Iowa Backers

“Ready for Hillary has signed up tens of thousands of supporters who will all be excited to have her here,” said Jerry Crawford, an Iowa lawyer who was chairman of Clinton’s 2008 Midwest campaign and is now helping Ready for Hillary in Iowa. “To the extent that is persuasive to her would be a good thing.”

The steak fry is just one in a string of fundraisers Clinton is planning before the November midterm congressional elections, including appearances for the Democratic National Committee and a joint event in San Francisco with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“We’re thrilled and grateful that she is lending her support to our shared goal of electing a Democratic House of Representatives,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement.

Growing Network

Since she lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to Obama, Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have worked to expand and strengthen their political network.

Bill Clinton also is scheduled to attend the steak fry. He has campaigned for Democratic candidates, including Obama, in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 elections.

Both Clintons have developed ties to business leaders and potential donors through her job at State and their foundation. And Hillary Clinton sent notes, called candidates and checked up on the state of campaigns while she served in Obama’s cabinet.

“I couldn’t be happier than to share this special day with two such close friends,” Harkin said in a statement. “They have contributed so much good, inspiring leadership to this country for many years, and I am sure they will continue to do so in the years ahead.”

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