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Hillary Clinton Absent, But Supporters Pack Fundraiser To Prepare For 2016 Run

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Dana Kozlov Dana Kozlov
Dana Kozlov is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. She...
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(CBS) – It’s starting to sound like a poorly kept secret.

Even though Hillary Clinton has not said if she will run for president in 2016, Chicago supporters on Thursday hosted a huge fundraiser for her called “Ready for Hillary.”

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the fundraiser at John Barleycorn in River North was packed with people hoping she’ll officially toss her hat in the ring. The Chicago Tribune reported there was even a symbolic price for admission: $20.16.

For a woman who has been coy about her political presidential future, the fundraiser brought out some heavy hitters, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

The fundraiser was about as unofficial as it gets, with campaign signs bearing the slogan “I’m Ready for Hillary,” and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Preckwinkle revving up the crowd.

“I want you all to know that I am proud to be supporting her for president,” Preckwinkle said.

The 66-year-old former First Lady and Secretary of State hasn’t said she plans to run for president again in 2016. Supporters said the fundraiser was a way to get her to commit.

“I’m a part of the host committee. I’m here to make sure that Chicago’s ready for Hillary,” said Derrick Fleming Jr., an event planner who helped organize the fundraiser.

It was all a lot of fuss if it was all for nothing, but if Clinton doesn’t seek the Democratic nomination in 2016, Durbin said he doesn’t know of any serious alternatives.

“She’s the strongest standard-bearer for our party. And I want her to know that a lot of us are ready to commit,” Durbin said.

Clinton was arguably on her way to topping the ticket in 2008, when her campaign started losing steam to her opponent, then-Sen. Barack Obama. After it seemed clear she wouldn’t have the delegates to secure the nomination, she quit the race that June, later becoming President Obama’s secretary of state.

So it seems, with all the rhetoric at Thursday’s fundraiser, it’s a matter of when, not if, Clinton will make it official.

She is scheduled to visit Chicago again next week for a speaking engagement, and possibly to promote her book.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was supposed to attend the fundraiser as well, but Thursday was also his wedding anniversary, so he clearly had somewhere else to be.

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