NEW YORK – Sen. Hillary Clinton has launched a pre-Christmas national fundraising tour to pad her already sizeable campaign war chest for the 2006 election.
But some say the New York Democrat is collecting donations for larger political ambitions.
Click in the video box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Todd Connor.
About 2,000 Clinton supporters packed into a Manhattan nightclub recently. Former President Bill Clinton attended on behalf of his wife, who was at another fundraiser in upstate New York. The former president told the crowd that Sen. Clinton can help reduce the nation's budget deficit without cutting critical programs.
"That's why you ought to re-elect Hillary to the Senate and why you ought to demand a different direction for the United States," Clinton told supporters.
The fundraising efforts are part of a two-week, six-state tour taking place during a usually quiet time on the campaign trail.
"She is a very effective fundraiser, and she can be in two places at one time, because she has her husband, the ex-president, also out there," said Georgette Mosbacher, a GOP fundraiser.
Mosbacher said she has no doubt that Clinton is preparing a presidential run, which means the senator is traveling to cities outside New York like Chicago and Louisville, Ky. But some Democrats say don't read too much into the fundraising efforts.
"There is only one sign being sent forward, and that is Hillary Clinton is focused on her re-election to the United States Senate," said Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic strategist.
Clinton's main opponent, Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, lags behind in the polls. Pirro said she will stay in the race for now despite pressure to withdraw from a state Republican leader, and reportedly, her husband. The decision has left the state GOP in turmoil, say observers.
"To just abdicate the Senate seat to Hillary Clinton doesn't speak well to the state Republican party," Mosbacher said.
Like any good politician, Clinton isn't taking anything for granted. While helping other Democratic candidates raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaigns, she is making a point to add to her own $14 million campaign chest.
Any money left over from her Senate re-election campaign can be used for a possible run for the White House. Though she has not yet tipped her hand, her recent speeches sound like the deliverings of a presidential candidate.
"We are ready to go for it and fight to take back our country, starting at the courthouse, going to the statehouse, going to the Congress, going to the White House because we love this country and we want it back on the right track," Clinton said at her Louisville event.
Clinton's fundraising tour ends in Denver.