How do you announce something that everyone already knows is coming? You take your time.
Hillary Clinton’s second campaign for President began Sunday afternoon with an understated video announcement—not the balloons, grand speeches or live-televised arena announcements that White House hopefuls traditionally employ. The presumptive Democratic nominee jumped into the 2016 race with an announcement that was as modest as the Clinton juggernaut could manage. The former Secretary of State and First Lady doesn’t appear in the first half of the video that officially launches her campaign. She won’t even hold her first campaign rally until May.
The Sunday roll-out was crafted to spotlight Clinton’s promise to run her campaign differently from eight years ago, when she entered with all the pomp of a dominant frontrunner but was defeated by the upstart Senator Barack Obama. The Obama-esque message: “it’s your time.”
“Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion,” Clinton declares.
The two-and-a-half minute video features an African-American couple expecting a baby, a young man starting a career in a fifth-generation owned factory, a young woman applying for her first job after college, a gay couple preparing to get married and two Hispanic brothers opening their first business.
“I’m running for President,” Clinton says, two-thirds of the way into the video message, which was posted on her newly redesigned website, Facebook page and Twitter account.
“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton adds, adopting a populist theme designed to appeal both to her party’s base and to middle-class Americans. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. So you can do more than just get by, you can get ahead and stay ahead.”
Clinton enters the presidential contest with a nearly unprecedented profile. After more than two decades in the national spotlight, she is the definitive frontrunner among Democrats, and polls ahead of all likely Republican candidates in most surveys. But she remains one of the most deeply polarizing national figures, drawing almost as many detractors and supporters, and with almost 100% name identification, nearly everyone has a well-formed opinion of her for better for worse.
The kickoff message was heavy on humility, oriented more toward the voters she will court in the coming months than her own qualifications.
Clinton will soon travel to Iowa and New Hampshire to make inroads in the early primary states, where she’ll hold small events and meet caucus and primary voters who remain skeptical of a Clinton candidacy after her 2008 campaign.
Instead of emphasizing her battle-readiness and experience, the video is more upbeat and casual. Her logo is a modern blue and red “H,” styled with an arrow. Even the name of her campaign committee has been adjusted to signal her new focus on voters this time around. The 2008 committee was called “Friends of Hillary,” but now it is the more inclusive “Hillary for America.”
“I’m hitting the road to earn your vote,” Clinton says, “because it’s your time and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”
Her last campaign was doomed by perceived inevitability, a backbiting political apparatus and a wooden candidate. In an attempt to avoid a repeat of the drama-filled 2008 effort, on Saturday, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook sent a memo to staffers that stated that the campaign’s themes included diversity, discipline and humility.
Clinton has already assembled a massive political team of hundreds working out of a Brooklyn Heights office space, drawing on both the Clinton and Obama networks.
Her announcement sets off a fundraising blitz, unleashing an army of Democratic fundraisers who have been sitting dormant and waiting for Clinton to officially declare. Clinton’s team is looking to raise well over $1.5 billion for her effort, while Republicans are planning to use her official entrance to activate their own donors.
The announcement came first in an email from campaign chairman John Podesta, who emailed Clinton campaign alumni, donors and members of Congress minutes before the video was posted.
“I wanted to make sure you heard it first from me – it’s official: Hillary’s running for president,” Podesta wrote. “She is hitting the road to Iowa to start talking directly with voters. There will be a formal kickoff event next month, and we look forward to seeing you there.”
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