Sen. Chuck Schumer endorses Hillary Clinton for president

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged his former Senate colleague Hillary Clinton to run for President in a speech in Iowa Saturday night, saying "it's time for a woman to be President."

Schumer, the third-ranking Democratic member of the Senate, endorsed the former secretary of state during the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner in Des Moines. In remarks prepared for delivery to the crowd of 750 Democratic supporters, he says that with Clinton, the party can "vanquish the Ted Cruz, Tea Party Republicans in 2016."

"It's time for a woman to be president," Schumer said. "That's why I am urging Hillary Clinton to run for president. And, when she does, she will have my full and unwavering support. You know her well: as first lady, senator, secretary and as a wife and mother. Hillary's experience is unrivaled and her vision is unparalleled."

Schumer also took several shots at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, joking about the Tea Party leader's visit to the Hawkeye State in his prepared remarks: "Frankly, I don’t know why he felt he needed to come to Iowa to hunt. He’s doing a great job of picking off Republican seats for us now."

"With Ted Cruz at the top of the GOP ticket," Schumer had said earlier, "We’ll be certain that the keys to the White House will stay in Democratic hands."

Polls show that Clinton would be the leading contender for the Democratic nomination if she were to run. She told New York magazine in an article published in September that she was wrestling with whether to run again and offered no timeline for an announcement.

"I'm not in any hurry. I think it's a serious decision, not to be made lightly, but it's also not one that has to be made soon," Clinton told the magazine.

Clinton aides did not respond to a request from the Associated Press to comment on Schumer's remarks. However, Clinton has been careful to remain close to key Democratic voters, speaking before students, black women and the gay and lesbian community in recent months. While she has given speeches around the country, she has not visited the early voting state of Iowa.

Many top Democrats have been urging Clinton to run. The Ready for Hillary super PAC, launched by her supporters, has received endorsements from Democrats such as Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Other potential Democratic candidates seeking the 2016 nomination include Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Iowa state Sen. Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, said she was excited by Schumer's announcement.

"It paves a way into her election," said Mathis, who was a caucus leader for Clinton in 2008. "Primarily women in the party have come out in support of her, so it's very good to see male leaders in the party, too. It's important that everyone in the Democratic Party come out."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.