A national group that focuses on electing pro-choice women to office launched a “Madam President” campaign Thursday that aims to put the first woman in the White House — an effort that coincides with a poll showing Hillary Rodham Clinton as the overwhelmingly favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Ms. Schriock said there is a “deep bench” of formidable female candidates if Mrs. Clinton takes a pass, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Others, though, said Emily’s List (which stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast) is downplaying its No. 1 goal.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that this pro-choice group wants Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP consultant. “They should make it easy on themselves and come right out with a direct endorsement.”
Mrs. Clinton tried to follow in the footsteps of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in the 2008 election, but lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama went on to win the general election and chose Mrs. Clinton as his secretary of state, a position she stepped down from this year.
Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department included the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
Congressional Republicans since have laid blame for the lack of security in Libya directly at her feet, while Democrats say that charge is unfair.
Mrs. Clinton, though, remains wildly popular within Democratic ranks, and her shadow promises to hang over the 2016 presidential race until she decides whether to run.
A Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey released Thursday drives home the point, showing Mrs. Clinton with a 65 percent to 13 percent lead over her closest competitor, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, in the 2016 Democratic primary. (No other women were included in the survey.)
“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a rock-solid hold on the hearts of Democratic voters at this point,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.
Ms. Schriock, meanwhile, touted a poll performed for Emily’s List by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research that found that 90 percent of the respondents in battleground states would support a female president, and 72 percent believe it is likely the next president will be a woman.
Ms. Schriock also said the new campaign will focus on battleground states, including Iowa and New Hampshire — home to the first two contests in the 2016 primary season.
“In 2012, voters across the country elected a historic number of women leaders because they had the right priorities. The Madam President campaign will build on that base, harness their energy and enthusiasm for women’s leadership, and channel it toward putting a woman in the Oval Office,” Ms. Schriock said. “We have a deep bench of women leaders committed to fighting for progressive change who are up to the task of taking their place on the Democratic ticket in 2016 and beyond. It is clear that this is our time — we are ready for a Madam President.”