Hillary Clinton’s latest book doesn’t come out for nearly two weeks, but the hype surrounding it is in full swing.
This week, Clinton advisers leaked a chapter to Politico, arranged a friendly interview with People magazine and released an author’s note and a video of Clinton speaking about the book. Pre-ordered, purportedly signed copies of "Hard Choices" are being sold on eBay for nearly $400. Clinton is headlining a private event Friday at Book Expo America in New York and hits the road for a book tour next month. Tickets are commanding hundreds of dollars.
A flurry of activity before a book launch – especially one that the publisher expects to make a lot of money – is not unexpected. But for the former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, the ballyhoo has multiple layers of significance, putting her back squarely in the spotlight and allowing her to control the narrative of her tenure at the State Department and to test the waters for a 2016 presidential run.
"The book in terms of its substance, process and timing reflects a Hillary Clinton who has absorbed the lessons of 2008 and informed them in her approach to a possible 2016 run," Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who worked in the Bill Clinton White House, said in an e-mail.
The book focuses on Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The chapter that leaked to Politico is about Benghazi, Libya. But the other releases and interviews have struck a more populist and softer tone – Clinton speaking about her daughter’s wedding, the need for good jobs and how foreign policy affects regular people -- ostensibly geared toward people who would not normally buy a strictly political book. Clinton got in a plug for the book while surprising Barbara Walters during her last day on "The View." For Mother’s Day, she released an excerpt to Vogue magazine.
“All of us face hard choices in our lives,” Clinton wrote in her author’s note. “We have to decide how to balance the demands of work and family. Caring for a sick child or an aging parent. Figuring out how to pay for college. Finding a good job, and what to do if you lose it. Whether to get married – or stay married.”
The book is Clinton’s fifth, a fact that gets lost amid the planning for an hour-long, prime-time special with Diane Sawyer the night before the book hits shelves, followed by an interview on "Good Morning America." the morning of the launch. Clinton will also sit down for a special with Fox News on June 17. Jim Milliot, the co-editorial director of Publisher’s weekly, said much of the hoopla is because Clinton is a known commodity who can, and has, sold books.
"It certainly goes to the point that it’s Hillary Clinton," he said. "She'll have a lot to say about her days at the State Department. And, let’s face it, it gives her the platform to explore a run for the presidency."
Clinton’s advisers said she plans to hold events in every major market and has a slate of appearances announced. Her June 18 event in Edmonton, Alberta, is sold out. On June 14 she will sign books at a Washington, D.C., area Costco – a chain where she once signed so many books she had to ice her wrist. Tickets to attend and appear in the "premium photo line" with Clinton at the Long Center in Austin, Tex., are $500.
Tracy Sefl, a senior adviser to Ready for Hillary, a Super PAC urging Clinton to run in 2016, said supporters will be in each place Clinton visits, distributing bumper stickers and other materials and rallying supporters. People who want Clinton to run in 2016 have been eagerly awaiting and devouring each thing that comes out relating to the book, Sefl said.
"Each little piece is an eagerly anticipated course of a really great meal, and it’s been fun whether it’s video or the excerpts we’ve seen,” she said.
Sefl said the targeted rollout and hype surrounding it is helping build excitement by taking the opposite approach of a celebrity like Beyonce, who quietly released her latest album with no pre-publicity or warning. “I think both of these things work. I sort of love that contrast,” she said. “That you can go either way. You can do the Beyonce album drop or do the rollout of “Hard Choices.”
Lehane likened the book’s introduction to publicity ahead of a big speech – or perhaps in this case, a big announcement about a presidential run.
“The book rollout is being handled as if it is the publishing analog to the State of the Union speech or political convention, whereby one leverages the intense interest in advance of the book actually being available to dominate coverage,” Lehane said.