COMMENT: Is Hillary setting her sights on 2012?

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Remaining true to her image as a tenacious fighter, Senator Hillary Clinton has dusted herself off after the bruising 2008 Democratic primary race against Barack Obama and set her sights on fundraising for her 2012 Senate re-election campaign, and perhaps even more.

According to Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer’s Politiker blog, this morning Senator Clinton sent out a special message to supporters who donated up to $2,300 (£1,145) to her anticipated 2008 general election campaign, all of which must be returned to the donors by August 28, unless she gets their permission not to.

In the new appeal, which includes a photocopy of a handwritten note from Clinton, the former First Lady writes:

“Dear friend, your commitment has meant so much to me over the course of my Presidential campaign.

“You were there for me when I needed you the most and I’ll never forget it.

“I hope you’ll help me continue to fight for the issues and causes we believe in by filling out the enclosed form in support of Friends of Hillary.”

The form, once signed, allows Clinton staff to transfer the money from the 2008 general election fund into the 2012 Senate re-election treasury, where it can earn four years of interest.

Interestingly, Clinton could once transferred shift the money once again from her Senate reelection campaign to a 2012 Presidential campaign, in much the same way she did when took $14 million left over from her successful 2006 Senate reelection campaign for use in the 2008 Presidential race.

Is Clinton hedging her bets for 2012? Maybe.

But the bottom line is that though Hillary Clinton raised well over $200 million for her primary race, she still has $20 million in debt to pay off from her 2008 campaign and holding on to money already raised for a 2008 general election campaign that is not going to happen is one way of tackling the problem.

Furthermore, there is no question that Clinton will run for re-election in the Senate in a few years or that no matter what happens in November, 2012 and 2016 are not so far down the road for politicians like Clinton who are known to think ahead.

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