WASHINGTON -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, former secretary of state, senator and first lady of the United States, is running for president, she announced on Sunday.
"I'm running for president," Clinton said in a videotaped message, broadcast over social media on Sunday afternoon. "I'm hitting the road to earn your vote."
Clinton aims to be the first female commander-in-chief in American history and the first to win the nomination of a major US political party. She announced her bid en route to Iowa, the first caucus state to vote in the Union and one she lost to Barack Obama in her first bid for the presidency in 2008.
In her announcement video, Americans are shown hard at work, in families full of gay and straight, young, old and diverse citizens, seeking to "get ahead." Her message was brief, and populist: "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," Clinton said, wearing red and blue in front of a white porch. "And I want to be that champion."
Much of the conversation surrounding her long-anticipated campaign, to be headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, has focused on her previous one: Where her campaign management faltered, where optics failed her and what constituencies she struggled to win. Clinton lost that bid for the Democratic nomination, to a surging Obama, despite winning the popular vote in her party's primaries.
At 67-years-old, she launches her second bid entering a transformed political landscape: Demographic shifts in states such as Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina put those territories in play for Democrats, making it more difficult for a Republican to reach the 270 electoral college votes required to win the White House.
Clinton must win her party's nomination first. And nine months ahead of the first contests, no other Democrat has formally entered the race, much less the informal, "invisible primary" held over the last several months to shore up the millions of dollars required to mount a credible campaign.
Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley is expected to challenge Clinton, showing up in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first primary state, in recent weeks. Vice President Joe Biden has also kept open the possibility of running against Clinton.
Attacks against Clinton began well before she announced her bid on Sunday, prompting the former secretary to erect a campaign structure to defend her sooner rather than later. Reports have surfaced in recent weeks that Clinton used a private e-mail account and server during her time as secretary of state, drawing criticism from her Republican counterparts.
Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky formally running for the Republican nomination, released an unvarnished new ad on Sunday timed with her launch targeting Clinton's tenure at the State Department.
Clinton's responsibilities as secretary of state during the 2012 attack on a US compound in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the death of US ambassador Chris Stevens, is an "enormous" issue for the presidential hopeful, Paul contends. In interviews on Sunday, he also attacked her record as an advocate for women's rights, questioning the Clinton Foundation's relationship with governments in the Muslim world.
On the Republican side, Paul will be joined by a crowded field: Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, is expected to announce his own bid on Monday. His Floridian colleague, former governor Jeb Bush, has already announced an exploratory committee, which enabled him to raise significant campaign cash over the winter months.
Anticipating Clinton's announcement over the weekend, Obama endorsed her run— if not her place as the mantle holder of the Democratic Party.
"She is my friend," Obama told reporters in Panama. "I think she would be an excellent president."
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