WASHINGTON (CNN) — There was no presidential contender at Saturday night's Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson dinner in Iowa, but that doesn't mean 2016 talk wasn't on the menu.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, used his keynote address in Des Moines to urge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to enter the race, offering his full endorsement for her candidacy, proclaiming "2016 is Hillary's time".
"Run, Hillary, run", Schumer told the dinner, "If you run, you'll win and we'll all win".
Schumer was an early supporter of Clinton during her 2008 campaign, becoming the first U.S. senator to endorse her bid. With his Saturday remarks he becomes of the highest officials to publicly push her to run again.
A Democratic source last week said Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina, told an EMILY's List fundraising event in New York that all sitting female Democratic senators signed a letter urging to Clinton to run as well, but that letter has not been released.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, vocally endorsed the former secretary of state at another EMILY's List event in Des Moines. In August, McCaskill told the crowd she she could wait for "that moment in 2017 when we can say 'Madam President' to Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Schumer in Des Moines said, "you know her well. first lady, senator, secretary, and as a wife and mother. Hillary's experience is unrivaled and her vision is unparalleled." In 2008, he said, "the time was right for Barack Obama... 2016 is Hillary's time. And our nation will be better for it." Clinton lost a hard-fought battle for the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama in 2008.
The prospect of a Clinton run prompted Schumer to recall losing a junior high school presidential race to a female classmate.
"When I eventually lost to Mady Gibson, not that I still remember her name, but when I lost to her I said then as I say now, it's time for a woman to be president," Schumer said.
Despite much criticism of her actions during and after the Benghazi, Libya unrest last year, Hillary Clinton's approval rating remains high. A CNN/ORC poll conducted October 18-20 found 59% of adult Americans have a favorable opinion of Clinton.