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updated: 6/10/2014 6:25 PM

Clinton returns to local roots for book tour

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  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she feels emboldened to run for president because of Republican criticism of her handling of the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

      Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she feels emboldened to run for president because of Republican criticism of her handling of the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
    Associated Press

 
 

As Hillary Clinton rolls through Chicago on her book tour and possible presidential campaign warm-up, Democrats from her former hometown of Park Ridge and the surrounding suburbs will be watching.

Clinton's ties as a Chicago native and Maine South High School alumna could give local Democrats extra incentive to work hard for a 2016 campaign.

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U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat who represents Park Ridge, pointed to a large Chicago fundraiser for Clinton last week. "There's going to be this big grass-roots effort on her behalf," Schakowsky said.

Clinton is in town Wednesday to promote her new book, "Hard Choices," on a tour many observers see as the preface to a campaign for president.

Tuesday evening, Clinton gave a talk at a convention for the United Fresh Produce Association and Wednesday plans to do an interview with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel was President Barack Obama's first chief of staff and Clinton was Obama's first secretary of state.

Clinton so far has stopped short of saying she'll run, telling ABC News she'll spend the rest of the year traveling the country.

"I will be on the way to making a decision by the end of the year, yes," she said.

Clinton is appearing at book events this week in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and suburban Washington, D.C.

The former first lady remains the leading Democratic contender for the White House if she chooses to run for president again.

Republicans have aggressively challenged her record at the State Department in anticipation of another campaign.

In her last campaign, Clinton lost the March 2008 primary in Illinois to Obama. But in Maine Township, which includes Park Ridge and Des Plaines, Clinton beat Obama by about 425 votes.

"We take a great deal of pride in the fact that she was born and raised here," state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, said.

Clinton's Chicago visit gives the area a taste of the buzz of presidential politics that just finished less than two years ago when Obama was re-elected.

Illinois' political energy, though, is currently focused on 2014, with a critical battle for governor on the top of the November ticket, as well as a race for U.S. Senate and a number of controversial ballot questions.

"The next election isn't the presidential," Schakowsky said.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report

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