Hillary Clinton hasn't been distracted or damaged by a spate of stories about the Clinton Foundation's operations and is ready to begin rolling out detailed policy proposals after a June kickoff speech, senior campaign officials told about three dozen reporters at her campaign headquarters Thursday.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Clinton's speech will focus on her assessment of the condition of the country, where she would lead it, and why she's the best candidate to do it.
The session, which lasted more than an hour, reinforced the split-screen nature of the Clinton campaign to date. On one side, Clinton is focused on small events in early primary and caucus states. On the other, the media is digging into relationships between the Clinton Foundation and donors with interests before the federal government that Clinton hopes to run.
The view inside the campaign is that voters are concerned about kitchen-table issues Clinton wants to talk about, rather than media reports and Republican attacks on the foundation, the officials said. There's no conflict between her promise to represent "everyday Americans" and the access big donors have had to Clinton and her husband over the years, they said, arguing that voters will trust her to represent them in the White House. Her record on fighting for women, children, and other segments of the American public, along with the foundation's charitable work, stands in her defense, the officials said.
Here are the other big takeaways from the briefing at Clinton's Brooklyn headquarters.
1) The officials set out a couple of ways in which this campaign is different from Clinton's failed '08 run: they are focused on winning delegates, they understand that it's more important to raise money for the primary than for the general election, and Clinton herself feels in control of the campaign, rather than the other way around.
2) They have set $100 million as a fundraising benchmark for primary money in 2015 and said the $2 billion price tag that's been bandied about is a ludicrous number. When pressed, however, they said that with Super PAC money, the cost of the primary and general elections is likely to top
3) They say they expect a competitive primary but declined to single out any Democratic candidate they believe could give Clinton a run for her money. They also said they are mostly focused on the four earliest primary and caucus contests, in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
4) Republicans are stuck in the past on economic and social issues, including same-sex marriage and immigration, the officials said, and Clinton is happy to match her experience as secretary of state and her foreign policy agenda against anyone in the GOP.
5) The June 13 speech will lay out Clinton's broad framework for the campaign, with in-depth policies to follow in the coming weeks.
6) Despite Clinton's call for an end to Super PACs — and this isn't a surprise — she'll continue to support the big Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA.
7) Bill and Chelsea Clinton aren't expected to do any solo events in the next several months.
8) Hillary won't make a judgment on the Trans-Pacific Partnership until it's completed, they said.
9) The campaign has done an effective job of answering questions about the foundation without being derailed from the basic mission of making the case that Clinton should be president, the officials said.
10) They view the Republican field as ideologically homogeneous and moving right, creating a separation between the GOP field and Clinton.
11) Though officials declined to assess Republican candidates by name, they said they expect a highly competitive general election.
12) Officials said it's hard to anticipate changes in technology between now and the election but that they are focused on using social media to form communities of volunteers and voters. The campaign can reward those volunteers with praise and count on them to apply peer pressure to get more work out of each other in service of Clinton's effort.