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Hillary Clinton expected to speak at New York Democratic convention

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Hillary Clinton on the Today Show, Dec. 12, 2021.

Mike Smith | NBC | NBCUniversal | Getty Images

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is expected to speak at next week’s New York State Democratic Party Convention, according to people familiar with the matter.

Clinton, who previously represented New York in the U.S. Senate, is likely to take the stage in front of party leaders at the Sheraton hotel in Times Square, these people said.

The development comes as Clinton, who also was secretary of State during the first half of President Barack Obama’s administration, works to maintain relevance in a party that could be headed for defeat in this year’s midterm elections.

It may also stoke speculation about a potential new Clinton bid for elected office. Two of her allies last month had an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal suggesting Clinton could run for president in 2024 as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have fallen dramatically. Clinton has said she would not run for president again after her loss to Donald Trump in 2016.

“She’s beloved by the mainstream members of the Democratic Party and her popularity is likely higher than that of President Biden. It’s good for her because it keeps her relevant and her appearance is likely meant to galvanize the party and the audience,” said one of the people who said Clinton is set to speak at next week’s event.

These people declined to be named in order to speak freely about the yet-to-be announced speaker.

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A January NBC News poll showed that Biden’s approval rating among adults stood at 43% versus 54% disapproving. The survey showed that only 15% of participants said they strongly approve of the job Biden has done as president, while another 43% said they strongly disapproved. The poll had a margin of error of around 3%.

Jay Jacobs, chair of the New York State Democratic Party, did not return emails seeking comment. His chief of staff, Chris Melnyczuk, did not deny that Clinton was set to speak at the event.

“We’ve reached out to a number of people to speak and, you know, we’re waiting back on confirmation from a number of people. So there are a few things in the works,” Melnyczuk told CNBC over the phone on Thursday. “We’ve reached out to a number of folks, we’re not going to say who we’ve reached out to,” he said when asked whether Clinton was invited to speak.

A spokesman for Clinton also did not return a request for comment.

The New York State Democratic Party’s website says the group will have a welcome reception on Wednesday, and the convention itself will take place next Thursday. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who are both up for reelection in 2022, could be in attendance.

It is unclear which day Clinton is set to speak, nor is the topic of her remarks.

Clinton, 74, spoke at the 2018 state party convention, when she endorsed then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo resigned last year after former members of his staff and others accused him of sexual harassment. He has denied wrongdoing and has not ruled out a future run for office.

Clinton recently took part in a virtual fundraising event for Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who is running for Ohio’s Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Republican Rob Portman. Tickets for the event started at $2,900 and went up to just over $20,000.

A wealthy Wall Street donor who was on the call told CNBC that Clinton was “great and insightful” in her remarks during the fundraiser.

Beyond her frequent criticism of Trump, Clinton also hasn’t shied away from pushing back at certain elements of her own party.

In a December interview on “Sunday TODAY,” Clinton appeared to take aim at progressive Democrats and encouraged party leaders to start focusing on the more competitive districts.

“I think that it is a time for some careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat, or so-called progressive Democrat, is going to win,” she said. “I understand why people want to argue for their priorities. That’s what they believe they were elected to do.” 

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