With launch of presidential campaign, students recall build up to Clinton announcement

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke about her book, "Hard Choices", on campus this past summer.

GW was ready.

Political action committee Ready For Hillary will shut down this week. But the group, which raised roughly $13 million last year in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s run for president, had the support of dozens of GW students, faculty and alumni during its two-year run.

Students say they helped propel the PAC forward by working as interns at the national headquarters in McLean, Va., organizing fundraisers at D.C. night clubs, handing out free posters and collecting signatures in Kogan Plaza.

Since Clinton announced her bid for the democratic nomination Sunday, the PAC will close so donors can give money to the campaign.

Allida Black, a history and international affairs professor who left the University to help create Ready For Hillary, was active in Clinton’s 2008 campaign, traveling across the country and organizing fundraising events. She said starting this week she’ll shift her entire focus toward Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

“We have done our job,” Black said in an email. “We are celebrating her announcement and look forward to working our hearts out to elect her [as] president.”

Ready for Hillary raised money from 150,000 donors and organized chapters on 200 college campuses across the country, Black added.

Emilie Pollack, a junior majoring in political science, said she decided to apply to work for Ready for Hillary one day while she was studying for midterm exams in Gelman Library. Pollack, who has worked on five political campaigns, was a field organizer for Ready for Hillary and focused specifically on LGBT voters.

She said she focused on grassroots-style organizing, and marched along with other GW students in the 2014 Capitol Pride Parade. Pollack called the staff of Ready for Hillary “Energizer bunnies.”

“The whole team is like family to me. I got to work with amazingly talented people who were passionate about their jobs, and it rubbed off,” Pollack said.

Spencer Perry, the former financial director of the GW College Democrats who worked with Ready for Hillary, tried to coordinate a cocktail party between D.C. donors and members of the College Democrats.

Although the cocktail party didn’t end up happening on campus, Perry said he hoped to work with the Clinton campaign in the future.

“There is such a strong connection between GW and Ready For Hillary,” Perry said. “The grand majority of interns are from GW and a lot of the field officers and support are from GW as alumni or undergraduate students.”

Because the Federal Election Commission limits PACs’ direct candidate donations to $5,000 during an election cycle, the remaining money raised by Ready for Hillary chapters will be donated to EMILY’s List, an organization that advocates for pro-choice Democratic women to be elected to political positions. The Ready for Hillary tour bus, which has traveled across the country to build support for Clinton, will now be sold.

Former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg donated $750 to Clinton’s last presidential bid and said he plans to donate to her 2016 campaign. He said it’s no surprise that GW students have been actively campaigning for her presidential run.

“Students tend to be very politically active. It is in the DNA of the institution,” Trachtenberg said. “GW students tend to have more political curiosity and enthusiasm, so it makes sense that GW students are so engaged.”

GW faculty and administrators have also donated in support of Clinton campaigns in the past.

Senior Vice President and General Counsel Beth Nolan donated $2,000 to Clinton’s 2005 Senate campaign and nearly $7,000 to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to Open Secrets.

Miriam Galston, an associate law professor, donated $1,000 to the PAC in 2013 and $2,300 to Clinton’s 2008 campaign, according to Open Secrets. Charlene Bickford, the director and co-editor of the First Federal Congress Project at GW, donated $201 to Ready for Hillary last April and $1,500 to Clinton’s past senatorial and presidential campaigns.

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