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Clinton clan — and Gov. Christie — hit town for CGI event this week

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Updated: July 15, 2013 3:38PM



WASHINGTON — The 2016 presidential campaign hits Chicago this week — I’m not being premature — with Twitter’s newest mega superstar Hillary Rodham Clinton, along with Bill and Chelsea — and the bombastic New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in town for a big Clinton Global Initiative event.

When I posted on my blog Tuesday morning about the event, Hillary Clinton — who joined Twitter on Monday — already had 373,214 followers at 10:40 a.m. CT.

When I interviewed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the afternoon about @HillaryClinton, she was hitting 397,000 followers, gaining 1,000 in a few minutes as we chatted in the Capitol. At 7:36 p.m. CT, she was at 410,990.

Hillary Clinton showed she can tease us on her Twitter bio, which said in part, “author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD.”

“As someone who has already publically expressed my most fervent hope that she runs,” Boxer told me, “I am very encouraged by her entering the Twitter world. I have retweeted a lot of her message today. I especially said to my followers I look forward to the TBD part of her announcement.”

As does the political universe.

In Chicago, the Clintons are hosting the third annual meeting of CGI America — the domestic arm of the Clinton foundation founded by the former president and now a perch for the former secretary of State, who is the subject of ever-increasing rampant speculation over whether she will run for president in 2016.

Amidst the Twitter frenzy, Hillary Clinton will do something at the CGI that she has not done since she folded her presidential primary bid in 2008, bested by then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

And that is deliver remarks on domestic policy — in a Thursday session moderated by Bill Clinton with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and actress and Democratic activist Eva Longoria among the participants.

The event is at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers downtown and the closing session on Friday is billed as a “Conversation on Leadership” with a delicious double feature: Bill Clinton and Christie, who is oft mentioned by the punditocracy as a potential 2016 contender.

What could be better for political junkies: Bill Clinton — who in a short time may be advising his wife’s second presidential bid — giving Christie a platform to showcase his leadership skills. Unless it’s a trap, but I don’t think so because CGI events are ecumenical.

While Christie has been in the news lately for the rebuilding of the New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy — and his weight-reduction surgery — I think it’s worth reminding that less than a year ago, he was trying to score political points by portraying Obama as a Chicago political hack.

”The president is nothing more than a Chicago ward politician,” was a stock insult Christie used last summer, the lines here coming from Christie when Republicans were in Tampa for their convention. “We’ve had enough of Chicago ward politics in the Oval Office,” Christie said.

The CGI event draws a large number of political figures, corporate executives and leaders of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations.

Other speakers include Treasury Secretary Jack Lew; White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett; Wal-Mart President Bill Simon; business executive Carly Fiorina, who lost a GOP Senate bid in California in 2010, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Hillary Clinton also will keynote on Thursday night a benefit for CURE, the epilepsy research foundation founded by Obama’s former top strategist, David Axelrod, and his wife, Susan, over at Navy Pier.

The “convening sponsor” of the CGI is the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation. J.B. is the brother of Commerce Secretary-designate Penny Pritzker. J.B. has long been a strong Hillary Clinton backer, even in 2008, when sister Penny was Obama’s national finance chair.

As I finish this column, Hillary Clinton has climbed to 412,776 followers.



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