New York (CNN) – With more than 960 days still to go before the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton already finds herself the subject of almost-constant speculation.
As she increases her visibility on policy issues, addressing gender inequality and early childhood education through her family's nonprofit group, The Clinton Foundation, and repeatedly weighing in on the conflict in Ukraine, the focus of her supporters and the media has been squarely on whether she will run for president.
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Clinton even joked about the near-obsession in an address to the Association of American Publishers Wednesday, saying she had expected more down time after stepping down as secretary of state last year. Wryly, she said she recalled thinking: "there'd be no more interview requests, no frantic media speculation about my plans," to much laughter from the audience.
But as a 2016 candidacy increasingly seems all but inevitable to many, loyalists to the former secretary of state are trying to tamp down expectations that she definitely will run.
They fall into two groups. Some are staunch supporters who want Clinton to run but are concerned the pressure on her to make a decision so early could effectively force her into a protracted campaign. One Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter described her camp as "overwhelmed" by the narrative that her candidacy is a foregone conclusion.
"They really want to tamp down on that," the strategist said.
A smaller but influential contingent, including Clinton's State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills, as well as Maggie Williams, her longtime aide and 2008 campaign manager, have voiced opposition to a presidential run, several sources tell CNN. Mills' opposition was reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Hillary Clinton's confidantes flagging their concerns see their role as a counterweight to all the encouragement Clinton has received to toss her hat in the ring, according to several sources.
"Not too many people privately tell her not to run," the strategist said. This group "wants a counter-narrative."
The ambivalence of Hillaryland aides who have weathered the political ups and downs with their boss for decades is very real, another Democratic strategist and Clinton backer told CNN.
"This is from people who are like sisters for her, who think 'someone else can run the country, I don't want my friend to go through this crap,'" the source said, but also added, "If you love your country and you want to make history, and you know how hard it is to win three (Democratic presidential terms) in a row, she's your only hope."
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A smattering of high-power organizations aiming to encourage Clinton to run agree, and are fueling speculation with efforts unprecedented in presidential politics. Super PACs like Ready for Hillary and Priorities USA Action are marshaling allies and funds to help build support for a possible bid, and an operation called Correct the Record rebuts the Republican criticism of Clinton that has already begun.
In a speech Tuesday in Montreal, Clinton seemed to do little to tamp down enthusiasm when she again addressed the question of her political future.
"I haven't made up my mind," she said, but continued: "Of course I feel a deep sense of commitment to my country and its future."