NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, announcing her much-awaited second campaign for the White House.
As she did in 2007, Clinton began her campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination with a video. But rather than follow it with a splashy rally, she instead plans to head to the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, looking to connect with voters directly at coffee shops, day care centers and some private homes.
“Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion,” she says in the video. “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”
Political analyst Hank Sheinkopf told CBS2’s Valerie Castro that Clinton’s campaign will be all about control, starting with the way in which she announced.
“Smart for her to announce on social media. There will be no combat with the working press corps. It allows her to control the message and that’s what this campaign is really about.”
The video also features a series of men, women and children describing their aspirations. Her campaign manager also simultaneously sent emails to supporters and others announcing Clinton’s candidacy.
This voter-centric approach was picked with a purpose, to show that Clinton is not taking the nomination for granted. Only after about a month of such events will Clinton will give a broader speech outlining more specifics about her rationale for running.
The former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady enters the race in a strong position to succeed her rival from the 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama.
Her message will focus on strengthening economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families. The campaign is portraying her as a “tenacious fighter” who can get results and work with Congress, business and world leaders.
Clinton’s strategy, described ahead of the announcement by two senior advisers who requested anonymity to discuss her plans, has parallels to the approach Obama took in 2012. He framed his re-election as a choice between Democrats focused on the middle class and Republicans who sought to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led the country into recession.
I'm running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. –H https://t.co/w8Hoe1pbtC
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 12, 2015
Clinton, a Chappaqua resident, will face pressure from the progressive wing of her party to adopt a more populist economic message focused on income inequality. Some liberals remain skeptical of Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street donors and the centrist economic policies of her husband’s administration. They have urged her to back tougher financial regulations and tax increases on the wealthy.
“It would do her well electorally to be firmly on the side of average working people who are working harder than ever and still not getting ahead,” said economist Robert Reich, a former labor secretary during the Clinton administration who has known Hillary Clinton for nearly five decades.
Even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who led Clinton’s 2000 campaign for Senate, said he wanted to hear more from Clinton before deciding whether to endorse her. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” de Blasio said he wants to hear her say she’s ready to tax the wealthy and raise wages and benefits for the bulk of the population that has fallen back economically over the last quarter century.
“People in this country are hurting,” the mayor said. “The great recession set people back on their heels in a way we have not seen in decades and decades. I think it’s important for Hillary to hear those stories of the American people, and I think it’ll make her a stronger candidate.”
But other New York City Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, are fully behind Clinton, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
“My endorsement of Hillary is enthusiastic and strong,” Schumer said. “Why? She is going to focus on the middle class.”
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said you can be for Hillary and be progressive, Stern reported.
The GOP did not wait for her announcement to begin their campaign against her. The party’s chairman, Reince Priebus, has outlined plans for a broad effort to try to undermine her record as secretary of state while arguing that her election would be like giving Obama a “third term.”
Republicans have jumped on Clinton’s use of a personal email account and server while she was secretary of state, as well as her handling of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in his own online video, said Sunday: “We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign last week, also pointed to the Clinton family’s foundation, which has drawn criticism from Republicans for raising money from foreign governments.
Paul said it was hypocritical for the foundation to accept money from Saudi Arabia, which places public restrictions on the movement and activity of women, while Clinton carries forward with her long-standing effort to improve in women’s rights.
“I would expect Hillary Clinton, if she believes in women’s rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia,” Paul said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Instead, she’s accepting tens of millions of dollars.”
Clinton is the first Democrat to get into the race, but there are some lower-profile Democrats considering challenging her, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
The party’s nominee will have to overcome history to win election. In the last half-century, the same party has held the White House for three consecutive terms only once, during the administrations of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The 2016 campaign is likely to be the most expensive in history, with total spending on both sides expected to well exceed the $1 billion spent four years ago. This weekend, Clinton campaign fundraisers escalated their outreach to Democratic donors, who largely back her bid, with a flurry of phone calls urging them to donate as soon as possible.
Clinton’s formal entrance into the race also triggered the start of more aggressive fundraising by Democratic outside super political action committees such as Priorities USA Action that have been reorganized to promote her campaign.
The campaign launch also puts Brooklyn back in the spotlight, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported. The borough lost out to hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2016 to Philadelphia. But Clinton is setting up her headquarters in Brooklyn Heights.
Staffers and volunteers began working there last week.
Several supporters were outside Clinton’s headquarters when they saw the video announcement posted on social media, WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported.
“So happy! It’s amazing. It’s about time,” said Tom and Lisa.
Both worked as volunteers on Clinton’s 2008 campaign. They said her announcement is fitting for the 2016 race to the White House.
“Hillary Clinton could fill a 100,000-seat stadium right now and we would all be screaming for her,” Tom said. “Especially in New York, this is her home state. But she is right now meeting voters, she is hearing what people need.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand were among the first New York politicians to voice their support for Clinton on Sunday.
“Hillary Clinton has been a lifelong champion for middle-class families, an advocate for the underserved, and a fighter for civil rights,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Her record reflects the steadfast belief that every American, no matter their race, gender or ethnicity, should have the right to achieve economic security and opportunity. She is a tested leader with the resilience and experience to be a great President.”
“I am thrilled Hillary Clinton is running and will do everything I can to help make sure she makes history as our first woman president,” added Gillibrand, who replaced Clinton in the Senate. “I will never forget when I heard then-First Lady Clinton speak about the need to improve the lives of women and children around the globe. Her clarion call that women’s rights are human rights was heard around the world and inspired me to choose public service. I cannot wait to help her in the Senate make her vision for a better world a reality.
CBS News correspondent Steve Portnoy said that while Clinton is a favorite among Democratic voters, that may change when more people enter the race.
“It will be interesting to see. Our new CBS News poll in the last couple of weeks showed that eight in 10 Democrats say that they would gladly support a Hillary Clinton candidacy, but six in 10 said they would also like to see a robust debate within the Democratic Party, see someone other than Hillary Clinton run,” Portnoy told WCBS 880. “For now, she faces no substantial competition.”
Clinton will head into the heart of small town Iowa this week for her first campaign stop. She’s expected to tour a community college in Monticello on Tuesday and visit a produce distribution company in Norwalk on Wednesday, according to a schedule provided by her campaign Sunday.
Clinton will also hold meetings with Democratic elected officials and activists in the leadoff caucus state.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)