Hillary Rodham Clinton entered the presidential race Sunday, saying she wants to fight for the economic futures of regular people and ending years of speculation about whether she would redeem the disappointment of her last, failed attempt to become the country’s first woman leader.
“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion,” Clinton said in a video released Sunday. “…So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it’s your time, and I hope that you’ll join me on this journey.”
The video served as Clinton’s official announcement, though she only appears in it for less than half its roughly two-minute run time. Instead, viewers see a series of diverse and unidentified people. Women outnumber men, one man speaks Spanish and a gay couple is shown.
Clinton seems almost an afterthought, appearing at the end to tell viewers she is also ready to start “something new.” A new Web site and accompanying Facebook page feature old photos and a link to donate to the campaign.
The announcement — designed to be as low-key as anything involving Clinton can be — contains no overarching campaign theme. Nowhere does Clinton succinctly say why she wants to be president, or why she would be good at the job.
Some of that detail will be filled in this week, as Clinton begins a series of small meetings with voters in Iowa. She will then travel to other early primary states for what advisers said will be mostly intimate sessions in restaurants and other modest venues.
Clinton’s announcement sparked a number of nearly immediate attacks from her potential Republican rivals. In an email to donors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush wrote that, “Moments ago Hillary Clinton officially announced her White House bid — and it’s up to us to stop her.” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that she “represents the failed policies of the past.”
A former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, Clinton enters as the prohibitive favorite among Democrats while also polling far ahead of any potential Republican rival now on the scene.
More celebrity than politician, Clinton is almost universally known. Nearly every American already has an opinion of her, whether good or bad.
Clinton summed her long and colorful biography in cheeky fashion when she joined Twitter in 2013: “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”
The “to be determined” reference is now decided: a second attempt at the White House. Clinton has been running a shadow campaign for months, attacking Republicans and refining a Democratic base-friendly message heavy on themes of economic fairness and an equal shot at middle class success for all.
She has probably the best chance in history of becoming the first female U.S. president. That potential is woven throughout her emerging platform, with an emphasis on the advocacy for women and girls that has been the backbone of her professional life.
“Don’t you someday want to see a woman president of the United States?” Clinton teasingly asked an audience of Democratic women last month.
A chief challenge of Clinton’s early campaign will be to reintroduce or “re-brand” the candidate for a second presidential run. Advisers, including outside corporate ad-makers, have been at work on that project for months.
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