She hasn’t even declared she is running for president and she wasn’t even there, but it was Hillary Clinton fever Thursday night at a River North tavern where more than 600 people gathered to support her “potential” presidential bid.
Riffing off the slogan: “When women succeed, America succeeds,” U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., told the crowd at John Barleycorn “When Hillary succeeds, America succeeds . . . and when she does, we will have elected the most qualified person for President of the United States in the history of our country.”
The event — price of admission a symbolic $20.16 — was hosted by “Ready for Hillary,” a political action committee which defines itself as a group of grassroots supporters pledging support if and when she runs for president.
“I’m anxious to support her,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who supported then-candidate Barack Obama when he ran against Clinton, told reporters before the event. “I don’t know if there’s an alternative scenario I’ve even thought of.”
Whipping up the crowd, Durbin later stood at a podium and said, “We are going to elect one of our own, from Arlington Heights, Hillary Clinton.”
Schakowsky later corrected Durbin, pointing out that Clinton grew up in Park Ridge, not Arlington Heights. The former Secretary of State and First Lady was born in Chicago.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose presence was touted in the run up to the event, didn’t make it. He’d already been to another Clinton fundraiser Thursday evening at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush steakhouse, a $1,000-per-head fundraiser. The mayor elected to take his wife, Amy Rule, out dinner to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, a source said.
The event was a dry run. But it sets the tone for Clinton’s visit to Chicago next week.
Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, is expected in town the following week.
The event, which raised nearly $16,000, was one of two fundraisers held for Clinton Thursday in Chicago.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and U.S. Reps. Bill Foster and Robin Kelly, both Illinois Democrats, also attended the event.