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A peek at Hillary Clinton’s Silicon Valley fundraiser

2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reportedly wowed about 200 supporters who paid $2,700 each to see her Friday in Silicon Valley.

Clinton, who did two similar fundraisers Wednesday in San Francisco and three Thursday in Los Angeles, attended a luncheon Friday at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Reporters weren’t allowed in, but a tech executive who attended said Clinton seemed “shockingly well-prepared… she gave answers to questions that one would expect to see near the end of a campaign, not right at the beginning.”

Of course, keep in mind that everyone in the room had paid to be there and so is a strong supporter already. “But I’ve been around the block on these things,” this person insisted. “I don’t get impressed by politicians too often – especially early in campaigns – but I’m impressed.”

Clinton’s stump speech covered a wide range of foreign- and domestic-policy topics, the latter including student debt and pre-kindergarten education, the exec said, and then she took questions.

“My personal favorite was a high school girl asked at the end about teenage suicides … and she (Clinton) went off on this 10-minute answer that would blow you away,” the executive said, providing facts and figures off the top of her head about suicide-prevention strategies that have been effective elsewhere.

The issue is particularly resonant in Silicon Valley, where Palo Alto has struggled with a rash of teen suicides over the past decade – including one in January.

“Then she stayed and shook the hands of every single person there – that was not part of the program,” the executive said.

Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments »

Hillary Clinton’s fundraisers and critics

As expected, donors at today’s Hillary Clinton fundraisers in San Francisco paid only $2,700 to get in but are being asked to raise the same amount from 10 friends.

Clinton’s first event is from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. at the home of hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer, with about 105 attendees. The second, with about 220 attendees, is from 4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at the Century Club, hosted by longtime friend and supporter Susie Tompkins Buell, cofounder of Esprit and The North Face, and her husband, Mark Buell; an earlier invitation and previous reports had erroneously indicated this would be at the Buell’s home.

She has three similar events scheduled Thursday in Los Angeles, and one Friday at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

These events – into which no reporters are allowed – continue to build the “Hillstarters” program, a Clinton campaign aide said: a “bundling” program designed to involve more people and build the donor base. Attendees give $2,700, while hosts or co-hosts raise that same amount from each of 10 or more other people.

The aide said Clinton will speak to today’s attendees “about her commitment to being a champion for everyday Americans,” outlining her goals of “building the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday; strengthening families and communities; fixing our dysfunctional political system; and protecting our country from threats.”

Critics abound from several quarters.

“While Clinton doesn’t have time to answer serious questions about the numerous scandals plaguing her candidacy, she found time for three days worth of fundraising in California with the same wealthy liberal donors who gave to her family’s controversial foundation,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said. “Everyday Americans are waiting for answers, and it’s very clear that answering their questions isn’t a priority to Clinton.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is sending its “Frostpaw the Polar Bear” mascot to a rally outside the event at Steyer’s home, in an effort to urge Clinton “to outline a bold plan for addressing the climate crisis, including opposing Keystone XL.”

“If we’re going to have a planet that’s livable for people and wildlife, we need Hillary Clinton standing with millions of Americans calling for an end to fossil fuel addiction,” Valerie Love, a campaigner with the Center, said in a news release. “Tackling the climate crisis ought to start with rejecting projects like Keystone XL followed by a visionary plan to dramatically reduce carbon pollution and steer us toward cleaner, safer energy sources.”

America Rising, a political action committee that gathers and spreads opposition research on Democrats, notes Clinton not only has yet to take a public position on the pipeline, but has dodged the question more than a dozen times. That includes a discussion in Canada at which she said she has “traveled around your country avoiding answering questions” on Keystone XL because she was involved in the decision-making process as Secretary of State.

And Californians for Energy Indpendence, a group funded by the oil industry, notes Clinton told Iowans last month that “there’s something wrong” when “hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 when I was driving here” – yet Steyer is a former hedge fund manager who used tax loopholes including offshore havens.

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

Clinton campaign hires paid staffers for California

Two seasoned political operatives have signed on as paid staff for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in California.

The Clinton campaign announced Wednesday that it’s deploying paid staff in each of the 50 states who’ll coordinate local grassroots organizing meetings and house parties, engaging her supporters and training volunteers. California’s paid staffers are Ian Leviste and Sam Schneidman, a Clinton campaign official said Thursday.

Schneidman, 26, the Northern California organizer, most recently worked as field director for the Australian Labor Party, but earlier was an organizer for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns in Nevada, Alaska and Iowa. He also was a legislative intern for Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. , and for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Leviste, 28, the Southern California organizer, has been working as deputy Western field director for the Ready for Hillary PAC that was laying groundwork for the campaign.

Their mandate is old-school organizing: block-by-block, person-to-person contact. In the short term, they’ll be organizing house parties at which supporters can watch Clinton lay out her vision of the campaign during a formal kickoff next month.

As the Huffington Post noted Wednesday, hiring paid staffers all across the nation is reminiscent of “the ‘50-state strategy’ pushed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean when he was chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Dean argued that Democrats shouldn’t concede any state as ‘unwinnable’ and should invest resources in building an infrastructure in every single state.”

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments »

Clinton taps Kamala Harris’ sister as policy advisor

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has named California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ younger sister, civil rights attorney Maya Harris, to help lead her campaign’s policy team.

Maya HarrisMaya Harris – who also is the wife of former Associate Attorney General Tony West, who stepped down last year from his third-in-command post at the U.S. Justice Department – most recently was a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress. Before that, she was vice president for democracy, rights and justice at the Ford Foundation; before that, she was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, based in San Francisco.

Harris, 48, is one of three senior policy advisers Clinton named Tuesday to lead the development of her campaign’s agenda, Politico reported. The others are Ann O’Leary, a former legislative director to Clinton when she was in the Senate; and Jake Sullivan, a top aide to Clinton while she was Secretary of State and a former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris | 2 Comments »

Clinton aims to break James Buchanan’s curse

James_BuchananMy article in today’s editions about the Bay Area being “Ready for Hillary” included this historical fact: “Six American presidents had prior experience both as members of Congress and as cabinet secretaries; the most recent one, James Buchanan, left office in 1861. Then again, Buchanan is widely panned for letting the nation slide into the Civil War; as divisive a figure as Clinton might be, she’ll never top that.”

In case you were wondering, the other presidents who had been both members of Congress and cabinet secretaries were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren.

Also, Buchanan both was the last to succeed a fellow Democrat to the presidency by election, and was the last former U.S. Secretary of State to win the White House — a pair of 19th-century curses Clinton hopes to break.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 6 Comments »

Hillary Clinton hires Google exec for campaign tech

A longtime Google executive will run the tech division of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Washington Post reports.

Stephanie HannonStephanie Hannon, Google’s director of product management for civic innovation and social impact, will be the Clinton campaign’s chief technology officer, charged with building new ways for the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady to engage with voters, sources told the Post. Hannon, a 40-year-old Democrat from San Francisco, is the first woman to hold the top tech post in a major presidential campaign.

My colleague Matt O’Brien has confirmed with Google that Hannon is departing to go work for Clinton.

Hannon’s LinkedIn profile shows she has held her current post at Google since March 2013, “building innovative technology to help people broaden engagement with their community, government and nonprofits” with a focus on “changing how the world prepares and responds to natural disasters, using big data and experiments to enable cities to make evidenced based decisions and sharing transparent election ballot, candidate and results globally.”

Here’s Hannon speaking last year about share how Google helps cities make better decisions with data:

Earlier, she was a product manager at Facebook from 2012 to 2013, working in site integrity and trust engineering – that is, “building product features and operations tools to ensure Facebook is a safe space for communication where people use their authentic identities.”

Earlier still, she was a vice president at Eventbrite from late 2011 to early 2012; a cofounder at Sensey, a startup that aimed to bring web technology to residential energy management through smart thermostats, in 2011; and a Google product manager from 2004 to 2011 in Mountain View, Zurich, and Sydney, Australia. And she was a software engineer at Cisco Systems from 1996 to 2002.

Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Hillary on Blackberries, Fitbits and tighty-whities

After Hillary Clinton finished her speech Tuesday at the Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women in Santa Clara, she sat for a Q-and-A session with noted tech pundit Kara Swisher. Before getting to more serious stuff, they took a quick run through gadgets, Fitbit guilt, and appearing in front of 37.3 million viewers in one’s tighty-whities:

SWISHER: So I want to ask the big question, iPhone or Android?

CLINTON: iPhone. (Cheers.) Okay, in full disclosure, and a Blackberry. And I think the president told you the same thing, because I think he really loves his.

SWISHER: Well, you know, it is –

CLINTON: There are reasons why when you start out in Washington on a Blackberry you stay on it in many instances. But, it’s also — I don’t know. I don’t throw anything away. I’m like two steps short of a hoarder. So I have an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone and a Blackberry.

SWISHER: You know, if you lived in, and I go to Washington a lot lately, my kids are living there, and you would think Blackberry was the biggest company in the world form all the people that — because everybody uses it. All right, second one, Apple Watch or Fitbit?

CLINTON: Well, you can tell I’m not doing Fitbit and I haven’t gotten into the Apple Watch yet. I’m not in a wearable frame of mind yet. You know, I mean three people have given me a Fitbit or a Jawbone, and I look at it and I think do I really want something telling me I should do what I know I should do? I mean I have enough stress in my life avoiding doing what I’m told I should do, so I haven’t jumped off the ledge yet.

SWISHER: Okay. President of the United States, running for President of the United States or host of the Oscars next year, both jobs are open it seems?

CLINTON: Yes. Well, and both jobs are really painful from my own personal experience and observation. I don’t think I could do the “Birdman” man imitation. That goes back to the Fitbit conversation. I just couldn’t do that.

SWISHER: What about the president thing?

CLINTON: You know, there have been a lot more Oscar presentations than there have been presidents. So the pressure is probably somewhat less. It’s a one-night gig. And for many it’s just one night. And the other one it’s like a many-year commitment.

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Hillary Clinton in Silicon Valley next month

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State and presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, will give a paid speech at a women’s conference on professional development and personal growth next month in Silicon Valley.

Clinton is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

She last visited the Bay Area in October for a Democratic fundraiser; in August for a paid speech at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit; and in July to visit tech companies and tout her book.

Themed “Lead On,” next month’s nonpartisan, nonprofit conference is “a unique place for women coming together to promote professional development and personal growth, to further opportunities for connections and to inspire each another,” organizers say. “The day will feature one-of-a-kind discussions among thought leaders and industry experts about how women can rise to the top of their organizations; insight and expertise about navigating career and life transitions, and interactive sessions offering practical advice to help create and grow positive personal experiences outside the workplace.”

Others scheduled to speak at the conference include fashion icon Diane von Fürstenberg; former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson; artist and motivational speaker Candy Chang; and author and motivational speaker Brené Brown.

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
Under: Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Highlights from Hillary Clinton’s Facebook Q&A

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took part in a far-ranging Facebook Q&A on Monday while visiting the social media giant’s Menlo Park headquarters, giving answers on everything from holding Russia responsible for the shoot-down of a jetliner to letting dogs on the sofa.

Here are some of the highlights:

Melinda Arons, Los Angeles: Secretary Clinton: What is your response to President Obama sayin earlier today that Putin has “direct responsibility” for the downing of MH17, and what can we do to bring justice to the families? How can we realistically hold Putin accountable with anything other than sanctions?
HRC: I agree with the President’s comment today and we should do more to ensure a thorough investigation that not only respects those who were murdered in the attack on the plane, but also tries to find answers to who is responsible. In addition, we should work to bring our European allies together with us on tougher sanctions that would make it clear to Putin that there is a price to pay for this kind of behavior and we should encourage Europeans to start immediately to make sure they are less dependent on Russian energy so they are not intimidated. Finally, I would like to see more support given to the Ukrainians to guard their borders and to protect themselves.

Amit Choudhary, Jamshedpur (Tata Nagar), India: Please describe your book in one sentence.
HRC: Just as individuals face hard choices in their lives as I reference in my book, so do nations, and we need to face up to them and be willing to make them for the good of our citizens and the rest of the world.

Lauren Hill, Negaunee, Mich.: What is your favorite book?
HRC: The Brothers Karamazov.

Danny Foglia, Jamesburg, N.J.: Would you support a Constitutional Amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s “Citizen’s United” ruling, limiting the amount of money corporations and outside influences can contribute to political campaigns?
HRC: I would consider supporting an amendment among these lines that would prevent the abuse of our political system by excessive amounts of money if there is no other way to deal with the Citizen’s United decision.

Sophie Evekink, New York, N.Y.: If you became president of the United States, what would be your first action item on the agenda?
HRC: Answering hypothetically… the next President should work to grow the economy, increase upward mobility, and decrease inequality.

Esteban Wood, Miami: What is your opinion on Guantanamo Bay. Are you in favor of closing it? Why do you think the current administration has not closed it yet?
HRC: I supported closing it and know how hard the President has tried to do that.

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 21st, 2014
Under: Hillary Clinton | 7 Comments »

Hillary Clinton to do live Facebook Q&A today

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host a live Facebook Q&A at 2:30 p.m. today, Monday, July 21, during her visit to the company’s Menlo Park headquarters.

Those interested in taking part in the conversation can pose questions and follow along via the Facebook page for her memoir, “Hard Choices.”

As previously reported here, Clinton is scheduled to attend a community meeting Wednesday at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Center in North Oakland to mark the Bay Area launch of “Talking is Teaching/ Talk, Read, Sing,” a campaign to help parents understand the importance of talking, reading and singing to children every day from birth.

UPDATE @ 2:07 P.M.: Clinton will visit Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters today as well, and will speak to company employees at about 5:20 p.m. “about the challenges she faced and the lessons she learned during her time as America’s 67th Secretary of State,” according to the company’s blog. “We’ll explore how those experiences have shaped her views on human rights, domestic policy and other topics.”

The event will be streamed live from a Tweet pinned to the top of Clinton’s Twitter page.

Posted on Monday, July 21st, 2014
Under: Hillary Clinton | No Comments »