Schumer endorses Clinton 2016, in Iowa, in 2013
On Saturday night, at one of the biggest annual events for Democrats in Iowa, Sen. Chuck Schumer called on Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.
"It’s time for a woman to be president," Schumer told the crowd at the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Des Moines, after recounting how he lost to a young woman for class president in junior high school.
"That’s why I am urging Hillary Clinton to run for president and, when she does, she will have my full and unwavering support," he said, according to prepared remarks. "You know her well: as first lady, senator, secretary and as a wife and mother. Hillary’s experience is unrivaled and her vision is unparalleled."
Schumer said "the time was right for Barack Obama" in 2008, and he praised the president for having "successfully navigated this country through some choppy waters," but he said 2016 was for Clinton.
"Run, Hillary, run," he said on Saturday. "If you run, you’ll win, and we’ll all win. 2016 is Hillary’s time. And our nation will be all the better for it."
Schumer and Clinton had a respectful, if competitive, relationship as Senate colleagues, after she won a tough race in 2000, just two years after Schumer ascended to the upper chamber, following nearly two decades of service in the House.
The pairing was supposed to force Schumer to hustle even harder for headlines, as Clinton's star power, and obvious ambitions, absorbed some of the local oxygen.
But Clinton mostly kept her head down in Washington and quietly laid the groundwork for a national run, while Schumer continued his camera-ready Sunday press conferences back home, and worked his way up the party's leadership ladder.
The two developed a working relationship, with each mostly staying in their own lanes, and in December of 2006, he offered an early endorsement for her yet-to-be-declared 2008 campaign.
(“Hillary is thrilled to have Senator Schumer’s support if she decides to run," said Howard Wolfson, Clinton's spokesman at the time. "His advice and counsel will be invaluable if Hillary takes the next step.”)
Schumer's endorsement on Saturday comes 13 months earlier in the presidential cycle than his endorsement last time, and his open support places him on a growing list of Democratic leaders who have openly encouraged Clinton to run.
Capital reported last week that all of the women in the Senate's Democratic caucus had signed a letter urging Clinton to enter the race.
Schumer's colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, who replaced Clinton in the Senate, has repeatedly said she would support a Clinton candidacy. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who was the first woman to serve as speaker, has also encouraged Clinton to run.
Clinton has conceded she's considering it, but has mostly demurred on the question, as she travels the country giving paid speeches.
Clinton has begun to establish a rationale for her campaign, casting herself as a uniter, in the face of a deeply divided Washington.
Schumer, one of the party's top strategists, offered some support for that notion in Iowa.
"With a strong platform and with Hillary leading the charge, we will vanquish the Ted Cruz, Tea Party Republicans in 2016 and create a generation of Democrats who will make sure the middle class gets what it needs, our country advances and the torch held by that beautiful lady in New York’s harbor burns more brightly than ever," Schumer said.
The setting for Schumer's endorsement was significant: Clinton's loss in the Iowa caucus—finishing in third place, eight points behind Obama—was the first stumble in her eventual primary loss.