WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Casting herself as a champion of “everyday Americans,” Hillary Clinton on Sunday finally launched her campaign to become the first female tenant of the White House.
Long assumed to be the front-runner for her Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Clinton’s formal entry into the race unleashes her fundraising machine and empowers her to parry Republican attacks.
Seven years after her bitter nomination defeat to Barack Obama, the former secretary of state and first lady jumps into the race still the overwhelming Democratic favorite, as her Republican rivals gird for a bruising primary.
“I’m running for president,” a beaming Clinton said in a slickly produced video that quickly went viral after it was posted on her revamped campaign website Sunday.
“Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” she said in a two-minute clip featuring, upbeat middle-class families from a variety of backgrounds sharing their aspirations.
Her nascent campaign said Clinton will spend the next six to eight weeks in a “ramp up” period, building a grass-roots organization and “engaging directly with voters.”
Her first major rally and the speech that kicks off her campaign will not take place until May, her team said.
But Clinton stressed that “I’m hitting the trail to earn your vote.”
Her camapign said she will head to Iowa on Tuesday for small roundtable conversations “about how to make the economy work so everyday Americans and their families can actually get ahead and stay ahead.”
The announcement will no doubt trigger a donation deluge from supporters who have long waited for her to officially enter the race, a move that would allow them to contribute directly to her 2016 election effort.
But it also triggered a harsh Republican reposnse, including from the Republican National Committee which said Clinton “has left a trail of secrecy, scandal, and failed policies that can’t be erased from voters’ minds.”
“We must do better than Hillary,” tweeted former Florida governor Jeb Bush, just one minute after Clinton posted her own announcement to her 3.2 million Twitter followers, in a foreshadowing of the intense back-and-forth expected to play out on social media in the run up to the November 2016 election.