Hillary Rodham Clinton formally kicked off her presidential campaign on Saturday with an enthusiastic embrace of her potential to become the first woman to win the White House, asking supporters gathered at an outdoor rally to join her in building an America “where we don’t leave anyone out, or anyone behind.”
With the downtown New York skyline and new World Trade Center over her shoulder, Clinton offered herself as a fierce advocate for those still struggling from the Great Recession.
She promised to carry on the liberal legacies of President Barack Obama, and former Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, her husband, saying “real and lasting prosperity must be built by all and shared by all.”
While Clinton ended her first campaign for president in 2008 by conceding she and her backers “weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling,” she vowed Saturday to push ahead toward an “America where a father can tell his daughter: Yes, you can be anything you want to be — even president of the United States.”
The 67-year-old former secretary of state, first lady and Democratic senator from New York did not make her gender a core element in 2008, but it provided the cap to the first major speech of her 2016 bid.
Two months after starting her campaign with a simple video that showed her only briefly, Clinton outlined a broad vision intended to attract the coalition of young and minority voters that propelled Obama to two victories.
In her roughly 45 minute speech, Clinton laid out a wish list of Democratic policies: universal pre-K education, increased regulation of the financial industry, paid sick leave and equal pay for women, a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally, and campaign finance overhaul.
In doing so, Clinton tried to cast the 2016 election as a choice about the economic future of the middle class, saying the Republican field is “singing the same old song.”
The GOP’s candidates, she said, want to give Wall Street banks free reign, take away health insurance, and ignore the science of climate change.
Republicans jumped on Clinton’s decision to cite her ties to Obama and were trying to raise money off the speech almost as soon as it ended. In an email appeal asking for donations, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry wrote, “We want to look toward a brighter future, not backward at the failed policies of the Obama-Clinton years.”
Clinton is the dominant front-runner for the nomination in a race that also includes Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
Clinton’s aides said she plans to give a policy address almost every week during the summer and fall.