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‘I want to be America's champion’: Hillary Clinton enters 2016 race

Former first lady and senator enters as clear front runner for Democratic nod; Republicans immediately go on attack

Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 presidential bid on Sunday, kick-starting a long-awaited second run for the White House and becoming the clear front runner for the Democratic nod.

The formal word came from campaign chairman John Podesta in an e-mail to donors and supporters. “It's official,” the e-mail reads. “Hillary's running for president.”

The campaign followed up the e-mail with a tweet from Clinton and released an online video, featuring the stories of ordinary Americans, on the newly-launched

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in the video. “I’m hitting the road to earn your vote because it’s your time, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”

She adds in the video that “everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion.”

She will follow up her official announcement with a trip to early-voting states, where she will hold small events with voters. She will likely reach out to donors in the coming weeks, but does not plan to headline many fundraising events over the next month.

Advisers said she planned to talk about ways families can increase take-home pay, the importance of expanding early childhood education and making higher education more affordable. Detailed descriptions of her proposals won't be available for several weeks, aides said.

If Clinton's strategy sounds familiar, it might be because President Barack Obama framed the choice for voters in 2012 as between Democrats focused on the middle class and Republicans wanting to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led to the Great Recession.

In 2008, Clinton's attempt to secure the Democratic nomination was unsuccessful, as Obama, then an Illinois senator, garnered grassroots support and opened the pocketbooks of millions of voters and donors. 

Two senior advisers who requested anonymity to discuss her plans provided an outline of Clinton's next moves.

Clinton intends to sell herself as being able to work with Congress, businesses and world leaders, the advisers said Saturday. That tactic could sound to voters like a critique of Obama, who has largely been unable to fulfill his pledge to end Washington's intense partisanship and found much of his presidency stymied by gridlock with Congress.

Clinton joins Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky in making her 2016 intentions known — no other Democrat has formally entered the fray.

Still, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, D-Fla., chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, welcomed Clinton into the race but noted that the DNC expected “a competitive primary for the Democratic nomination” in a statement following the announcement.  

The group Ready for Warren, made up of progressives who have been urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to enter the presidential contest as a left-of-center alternative to Clinton, also said they would step up their efforts in light of Clinton's announcement. 

“With the 2016 race officially underway, we anticipate more Americans expressing their desire for a vigorous Democratic primary with Elizabeth Warren in it — a primary that would strengthen the eventual nominee, ensure Democrats are better positioned to win the general election, and give working families a champion in Washington,” Erica Sagrans, campaign manager of the draft effort said in a statement.

Clinton's Republican competitors also sought to land early blows to Clinton Sunday. 

Paul attacked his potential competitor for the presidency an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, repeating longstanding criticism of her handling of foreign policy, including the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, and more recent questions over overseas contributions to the charity established by Hillary and Bill Clinton.

“There is a history of the Clintons feeling they are above the law,” he said. 

His campaign has also debuted an ad, to be aired in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, attacking Clinton as a part of "the Washington machine." 

Jeb Bush, another competitor expected to announce his campaign in the coming weeks, released a video Sunday morning, connecting Clinton and Obama's legacy, a frequent tactic of the GOP.

“We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies — better than their failed big government policies that grow our debt and stand in the way of real economic growth and prosperity,” Bush said.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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