NEW YORK - They've been ready for a while — and their wait is nearly over.
Ready for Hillary members have spent two years urging former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president. They held one last rally in New York on Saturday, the day before Clinton is expected to officially announce her White House candidacy.
Supporters packed a lower Manhattan restaurant, many sporting "I'm Ready for Hillary" stickers while toting mimosas or beers. They eagerly broke into "Hil-la-ry" chants or shouted "Who are we ready for?" — eliciting the exuberant response "Hillary!"
"My heart is pounding," said Jodi Ochstein, 51, a social media consultant from Washington and co-chair of the event at Southwest NY. "The organization became so big and it showed her that she still has broad support. There is so much energy behind her."
Tickets to the event, which one supporter said was being held on "Hillary Eve," cost $20.16 and attendees could choose from a number of Clinton-themed cocktails, including one dubbed "#45" in predicting the former first lady would be the 45th president of the United States.
"We are but a small sliver of Hillary Clinton Nation," said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney. "I have been ready for Hillary since I met her in 1992, but I have never been as ready for Hillary as I am today."
Clinton, also a former U.S. senator from New York, is expected to make her announcement in an online video and follow it with small events in Iowa and New Hampshire before building to larger speeches. For now, she is expected to have a relatively uncontested path to the Democratic nomination.
That was not the case in 2008, when she was defeated by then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Her advocates at the rally — about three-quarters were women — are certain this year will not be a repeat.
"She doesn't have to be different than she was in 2008. The world is different than it was in 2008," said Nancy Chambers, 71, a retired parrot trainer from Manhattan. "I think people are more ready to have a woman president, and I think that would be really a special moment for this country."
Organizers said the event was a celebratory swan song for Ready for Hillary. The group was founded by Clinton allies but is not connected with the Clinton campaign, and claimed that in two years it reached more than 4 million supporters, held events in all 50 states and raised more than $15 million, much of it in small donations.
"After she left the State Department, she could have slipped into grandmother-hood but people want to call her back into public service," said Jarret Berg, 29, Democratic staffer in the state Legislature. "It's time for her."