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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a book tour on Tuesday to promote the release of her new memoir, Hard Choices, beginning at a Barnes & Noble in New York City. Hundreds of supporters flocked to the first stop in downtown Manhattan, bearing their “Hillary” t-shirts, hats, and stickers — and making the event an all-out spectacle.

The crowd began queuing up on Monday evening, and by 10am on Tuesday the line for admission stretched around the block. A Barnes & Noble employee told The National Memo that security began clearing people to enter at 8am, and within two hours nearly 200 were already inside awaiting Clinton’s arrival. Over 100 more supporters waited outside for their chance to meet the potential presidential candidate.

Several organizations that support a potential Clinton candidacy were also in attendance. The most notable was Ready For Hillary, a SuperPAC that bills itself as a “nationwide grassroots movement encouraging the former Secretary of State to run for president in 2016.”

The group arrived with over 30 volunteers on hand to collect signatures and hand out Ready For Hillary stickers, pins, signs, and bumperstickers.

Last week, the PAC unveiled the Hillary Bus. The tour bus, which was built in Iowa by union workers, made its debut at Tuesday’s event.

“In addition to generating excitement among millions of individuals who are already signed up with Ready for Hillary, the Bus is a mobile advertisement allowing our organization to reach new supporters in every corner of America as Hillary backers who see the Bus are prompted to sign up at readyforhillary.com,” the PAC’s website explains.

The Hillary Bus will follow Clinton’s book tour  on a cross-country trip through Chicago, Washington D.C., Austin, and San Francisco. Once the book tour concludes, the bus will continue traveling to “Democratic events, state fairs and community festivals, followed by college campuses and key midterm states in the fall.”

Smaller groups also turned out on Tuesday to voice their support for Clinton.

2016 Elect Hillary, a group that operates separately from RFH but donates some of its proceeds to the PAC, set up shop on the sidewalk selling its own independently designed t-shirts and tote bags. One t-shirt caricature depicts President Obama and former president Bill Clinton standing behind Hillary, giving her the thumbs-up on a presidential run.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit began as a joke in 2008 when Hillary Clinton told late-night host Conan O’Brien to stop making jokes about her wardrobe. A group of women in New York was listening, and formed the organization bearing that name, which remains dedicated to encouraging Mrs. Clinton to run for office. Women affiliated with the group passed out various pins on Tuesday, one of which read: “Clinton. Again.

Of course, not all in attendance were there to voice support. Fox News sent Jesse Watters — host of Watters World, a by-product of Bill O’Reilly’s O’Reilly Factor — to ask New Yorkers about Benghazi (of course). As The Wire reported, this wasn’t well received by many in attendance; volunteers deemed Watters “an idiot,” and called O’Reilly “a farce.”

The hype surrounding the mere chance that Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016 is palpable — and a big business. Seventeen months before the 2016 general election, and before Clinton has announced her plans, the circus-like publicity surrounding Hard Choices provides a preview of the inevitable media circus to come.

Photo: @TheHillaryBus via Twitter

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Sen. David Perdue

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) pulled out of his final debate against Democrat Jon Ossoff on Thursday —because he'd rather attend a Donald Trump campaign rally.

The Nov. 1 Senate debate was planned months ago, but Perdue's campaign said he could not participate as promised because he has been too busy doing his job.

"Senator Perdue will not be participating in the WSB-TV debate but will instead join the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, for a huge Get-Out-The-Vote rally in Northwest Georgia. For 8 of the last 14 days of this campaign, Senator Perdue went back to Washington to work for much needed COVID relief," his spokesperson John Burke said in a statement, referencing a failed attempt by Senate Republicans to pass Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) "skinny" $500 billion proposal.

"To make up for the lost time, Senator Perdue has over 20 campaign stops planned for the closing days of this race, and he is excited to welcome and join President Trump in Georgia before November 3rd to campaign for both of their re-election efforts," Burke added.

WSB-TV noted on Thursday that it offered Perdue's campaign other time slots to accommodate the Trump rally, but the overture was rebuffed.

Ossoff's campaign blasted Perdue's "cowardly withdrawal," saying in a statement that the move "says it all: David Perdue feels entitled to his office, and he'll do anything to avoid accountability for his blatant corruption and his total failure during this unprecedented health crisis."

The incumbent's decision to break his promise to debate came one day after a video of Jon Ossoff criticizing Perdue's anti-Obamacare record at a Wednesday debate went viral. As of Friday morning, a 72-second clip of Ossoff has been viewed more than 12 million times.

Perdue responded to that attack by making the odd claim that he repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act — which would take insurance away from hundreds of thousands of his constituents — because he believed doing so would cover more people.

"I voted against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, because it was taking insurance away from millions of Georgians. Today almost 18 percent of Georgians don't have any health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act," he falsely claimed.

This is not the first time Perdue has put Trump ahead of the interests of Georgians. According to FiveThirtyEight, he has voted with Trump about 95 percent of the time, including backing his right-wing Supreme Court nominees, his tax cuts for large corporations and the very wealthy, and his repeated attempts to take money from military families to pay for a massive Southern border wall.

Medical experts and data analyses have suggested Trump's rallies have been super-spreader events for the coronavirus. Trump has refused to adhere to social distancing rules or to require mask usage at the events and the mass gatherings have frequently been immediately followed by case spikes in the communities where he holds them.

One poll this week found that voters across the country said they are less likely to vote for Trump because of his "large, in-person campaign rallies where wearing a mask is not required of attendees."

The race between Ossoff and Perdue is considered a "toss-up" by election experts, and polls show it as virtual tied.

If no candidate gets a majority on Tuesday, the top two finishers will face off in a January runoff.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.