While some advisers suggested she should form an exploratory committee this year to send a signal to donors, her allies who argued otherwise have won the debate — with no committee expected until well after January 1, the sources said.

“She should take her time,” said one adviser who believes that the high-profile Clinton would only give license to her critics by becoming a declared candidate too early.

Last time, Clinton felt pushed into the race earlier than she’d wanted to be by Barack Obama’s January 2007 announcement of an exploratory committee. Now she appears comfortable moving at a slower pace. She is still scheduling paid speeches, as POLITICO first reported, as late as February 24 – suggesting she’s unlikely to be a declared candidate until after that date. What’s more, the man she is expected to tap for a major role in her campaign, current White House adviser John Podesta, has raised the possibility of remaining in his job until after the State of the Union address in late January.

Republican operatives familiar with discussions about how to attack Clinton said at least two outside GOP groups may go up with ads to define her in early 2015, especially if she waits for several weeks to launch a campaign.