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Hillary Clinton dips a toe into the 2016 fundraising pool

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, shown here in Iowa, is slowly starting to ramp up her fundraising operation.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Hillary Rodham Clinton held the first of many 2016 campaign fundraising events Tuesday with small invitation-only gatherings in New York meant to fire up big donors and recruit additional support.

The three events won't raise much money on their own. The cost for each attendee was $2,700 -- the federal limit for individuals during the primary campaign -- and the events were expected to draw between 75 and 150 people.

Hosts for a luncheon and other gatherings had raised 27,000 by "bundling" donations from 10 or more individuals, and attendees are being asked to go out and do the same, a Hillary For America campaign aide said. Those who bundle $27,000 or more for the primary season will be part of a campaign donor club called Hillraisers.

"It’s a far smaller bundling program than other presidential campaigns and is designed to involve more people and build the donor base," the aide said.

Clinton will also hold two similar small fundraising events in Washington on Thursday, and three in California next week. The events feature Clinton recapping her campaign goals.

The three-week-old presidential campaign is relying heavily on online fundraising in addition to donations raised through in-person events by Clinton and her surrogates.

Some of the deliberately small-scale operation is meant to jibe with Clinton's slow ramp-up for this second campaign. She is trying very hard not to look like her drive for the Democratic nomination is a juggernaut or that her nomination is inevitable. The low-key fundraising at the start is also a nod to potential supporters on the left who are suspicious of Clinton's ties to Wall Street.

Still, candidates go where the money is.

The first event Tuesday was a luncheon at the art-filled Manhattan apartment of hedge fund Chief Richard Perry and his wife, designer Lisa Perry.

Clinton is scheduled to spend three days next week fundraising in California, hitting up donor-rich communities in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Her tour will start in San Francisco, where Esprit co-founder Susie Tompkins Buell and her husband Mark are scheduled to hold a 5 p.m. “Conversation with Hillary” on May 6.

The next day, Clinton has three fundraisers in Los Angeles, starting with a breakfast reception at the Westwood home of longtime fundraiser and public affairs consultant Catherine Unger, who serves on the board of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. “NYPD Blue” producer Steven Bocho and his wife and “Homeland’s” Howard Gordon and his wife Cami are among those hosting a luncheon in Pacific Palisades, where Sen. Barbara Boxer is scheduled to appear as a special guest. And billionaire media mogul Haim Saban is opening up his Beverly Hills home for a dinner event, co-hosted by sports executive Casey Wasserman.

On May 8, Clinton returns to northern California for a morning event in Portola Valley hosted by eBay chief executive John Donahoe and former UN human rights ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe. In March, the former Secretary of State delivered a paid speech at eBay headquarters.