Clinton camp split on when to launch campaign

Washington CNN  — 

An internal debate among Hillary Clinton supporters about the timing of when she should launch her expected campaign for the presidency has erupted once again.

Several Democrats have told CNN that there is a desire on the part of Clinton and her innermost circle to go as late as possible. But the potential for a summer start to the official Clinton 2016 campaign, first reported this morning by Politico, is only one of the options on the table. The spring launch plan is still seen by most Clinton watchers as the most likely timing scenario. Under the spring scenario, Clinton could form an exploratory committee or other official vehicle, which has FEC-regulated restrictions for potential candidates, but would enable Clinton to publicly indicate her intentions and begin a new phase of the process without formally launching a full blown campaign until later in 2015.

There is some concern among Clinton loyalists that as the increasingly crowded Republican race heats up, the attacks on Clinton could begin to stick without an apparatus in place to answer them.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee who is pondering another run, invoked Clinton numerous times during recent speeches.

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The liberal superPAC American Bridge has been countering Republican attacks on Clinton’s behalf but the cover has not necessarily been to the satisfaction of all in Clinton’s orbit. The Democratic National Committee is beginning to take on a larger role in an effort to protect Clinton and the party brand but many Democrats are concerned even that won’t be enough. Some Democrats have also expressed concern that a later start to Clinton’s campaign will appear like the nomination is shaping up to be more of a coronation and a race - something Clinton and her advisers are looking to avoid.

However, those pushing for a later start argue that the more Hillary Clinton can stay out of the daily to and fro of presidential politics, the better that is for Hillary Clinton. No top Democrats have made serious moves to challenging Clinton’s informal and all but certain campaign. In addition, with the uptick of Obama’s approval ratings and easing of economic pessimism among the voters, some supporters of a later start argue that Clinton might want to continue to benefit from those environmental conditions before jumping into the daily presidential campaign mix.

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Last fall an internal debate emerged about whether a campaign should form in January or February of 2015 or if it would be better to wait for Spring. Those arguing for a Spring start won that debate at the time, but it clearly did not stand as the final word on the matter.