Source: Clinton finance chair says campaign needs ‘$100 million in the primary’

02:24 - Source: CNN
Hillary Clinton back in New Hampshire
Concord, New Hampshire CNN —  

Hillary Clinton will headline the first fundraisers of her new bid for the White House next week in New York and Washington, according to an email invitation obtained by CNN, taking a break from meeting voters to start building a war chest for her campaign.

The fundraisers will be in New York City on April 28 and Washington on April 30, according to an announcement sent to “Hillstarters,” the campaign’s moniker for people asked to find at least 10 contributors to give $2,700 each. Prospective donors invited to the fundraisers were also invited to a weekly “behind the scenes” call with top campaign advisers.

“Beginning next week, we are launching our ‘Behind the Scenes’ briefing calls exclusively for our Hillstarter members,” the email said. “Every Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, we will introduce you to a new area of the campaign, as well as the talented and hardworking staff bringing this to life.”

The briefings and fundraisers are an effort by Clinton’s campaign to not only engage donors, but to make them feel a part of the campaign. The Clinton family has a massive Rolodex of longtime supporters, something campaign aides hope to harness and use for their benefit early in the primary process.

Clinton is also targeting another group: Democrats who may not have been with her eight years ago but were donors to President Barack Obama’s two campaigns.

Campaign manager Robby Mook is in Washington for a series of meetings Tuesday, CNN has learned, including strategy sessions with some prospective top fundraisers, including an introductory meeting for “Hillstarters.”

Clinton’s top campaign staff has also started to hold nationwide, in-person briefings and fundraisers with campaign donors and supporters. The events put Clinton’s longtime supporters in front of aides like Mook, John Podesta, the campaign’s chairman, Marlon Marshall, the campaign’s director of state operations, and Amanda Renteria, the campaign’s top political aide.

On Tuesday, those four aides and Capricia Marshall, Clinton’s former chief of protocol at the State Department, briefed more than 150 top Clinton financial backers at the Washington home of close Clinton friends Vernon and Ann Jordan, according to a source who attended the meeting but declined to be named.

“Hillstarters” who raise a total of $27,000 – or encourage 10 people in their circle to donate the maximum $2,700 – will be invited to a finance summit with Clinton in May, attendees were told, the source said.

The aides will hold events in Richmond, Baltimore, Washington and New York this week. According to an invitation obtained by CNN, they will headline a similar fundraiser and strategy session on May 8 in Philadelphia.

“God only knows when she will be getting to these states after the early states,” said a donor who received the invite last week. “This is a good way to make sure old standbys are touched by the campaign.”

Clinton’s top campaign aides say they are well aware of how much money it will take for the former secretary of state to win the presidency this time around. Because presidential campaigns have grown more expensive every cycle, the expectation is that the 2016 effort will cost more than the roughly $1 billion President Obama’s 2012 campaign spent. That point was reiterated at the Jordans’ home on Tuesday, with Dennis Cheng, Clinton’s finance director, briefing the group that they needed “at least $100 million in the primary.”

Clinton aides also made the case that major donors are critical to the campaign’s launch so that it can invest now in creating lists for online soliciting. Aides showed the donors data that backed up the case that major donors historically are crucial at the beginning of off-year primaries, said the source attending the meeting.

The Clinton campaign, along with outside Super PACs and other supportive groups, are likely to raise more than $2 billion, fundraising strategists estimate.

For now, the Clinton campaign is only raising money for the primary, not the general election, a symbolic decision that aides hope will show they are expecting a competitive race for the Democratic nomination. Campaign aides said they hope to raise $100 million for the primary—the real figure is likely to be far higher—but have not yet set goals for a general election race, should she become the party’s nominee.