Former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton formally opened her presidential bid with a deeply personal address that promised thousands of supporters gathered at a rally in New York City that she would champion “an economy for everyday Americans.”
The former first lady, a favored candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, offered a full-throated embrace of the populist rhetoric backed by the party’s progressive wing, citing the liberal legacy of former US presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, her husband. And she made clear that her potential to make history as the country’s first female president would be a major part of that liberal message.
“I’ve been called many things by many people,” Clinton told the 5,550 cheering voters. “Quitter is not one of them.”
Her focus marked a sharp departure from her previous presidential bid when she was a US senator, when she was reluctant to dwell on her gender during until nearly the final moments of her campaign.
After a months-long primary contest against US President Barack Obama, she conceded defeat with an address that acknowledged the “18 million cracks” her bid put in the “that highest, hardest glass ceiling.”
The path, she said then, “will be a little easier next time.”
“I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States and the first grandmother,” she said on Saturday.
Speaking on Roosevelt Island, Hillary Clinton described her broad vision for her second presidential campaign — with a platform designed to appeal to the coalition of young and minority voters that twice boosted Obama to victory.
“Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers,” she said. “You brought our country back now it’s time your time to secure the gains and move ahead.”
While she shied away from specific policy proposals, she laid out a wish list of Democratic policies to the cheering crowd. Over the course of her roughly 45 minute remarks, she backed universal pre-kindergarden education, Wall Street regulation, paid sick leave, a path to citizenship for immigrants, equal pay, campaign finance reform and banning discrimination against gay workers and their families.
Aides she plans to give a policy address almost every week during the summer and fall, detailing her positions on issues including college affordability, jobs and the economy.
She dedicated only a short section of her remarks to the foreign policy, vowing to “do whatever it takes to keep American safe.”
However, unlike in the early Republican primary contest, where more than a dozen candidates often describe a nation under pressing threat from global terrorism, Clinton said she see a US far more secure in its global position.
“I was in the situation room in the day we got [Osama] bin Laden, but I know we have to be smart as well as strong,” she said. “I believe the future holds far more opportunity than threats.”
While she has been particularly vocal on immigration and other issues important to key parts of the Democratic base, she stayed silent on policy questions that have divided the party, including a current debate over trade.
“This was mostly a typical Democratic speech — much better than the direction Republicans offer America, but not the bold economic vision that most Americans want and need,” said activist Adam Green, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Hillary Clinton also cast the race as a choice about the economic future of the middle class, saying the Republican field is “singing the same old song.”
“They reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy,” she said. “What I once called a village that has a place for everyone. My values and lifetime of experience have given me a different vision for America.”
She also stressed her career history of advocacy work — a calling she said that was inspired by her mother’s difficult upbringing.
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