TIME Hillary Clinton

5 Other Women Who Ran For President

Hillary Clinton Receives Emily's List Award
Win McNamee—Getty Images Hillary Clinton addresses the 30th Anniversary National Conference of Emily's List on March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Hillary Clinton is not the first

With the expected announcement Sunday that Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for president in 2016, the Democratic Party has a female front-runner for the highest office in the land. But Clinton isn’t the first woman to run for president.

Here are five others who sought the White House:

Name: Victoria Woodhull

Year Ran: 1872

Party: Equal Rights Party

Votes: No official votes recorded

Platform: Universal suffrage, political reform, civil rights and social welfare

Victoria Woodhull ran for president nearly 50 years before the Nineteenth Amendment allowed women to vote in presidential elections. Though historians can’t agree on whether her name actually appeared on nationwide ballots (or whether she received any votes), they concur that her run was historic—not only was she the first woman to seek the office, but her running-mate, Frederick Douglass, was the first African-American ever nominated for Vice President.

She announced her run in a letter to the New York Herald in 1870: “I…claim the right to speak for the unenfranchised women of the country, and believing as I do that the prejudices which still exist in the popular mind against women in public life will soon disappear, I now announce myself as candidate for the Presidency.” But Woodhull was controversial and polarizing. A fierce believer in free love, she hated how society condemned liberated women, yet turned a blind eye to men’s dalliances. Her presidential run suffered a fatal blow when she was arrested on obscenity charges for writing an article about an adulterous love affair between Henry Ward Beecher, a powerful minister, and a parishioner just days before the election. Woodhull’s campaign was met with widespread derision, but it’s unclear if she could have taken office even if she had won—she was only 34 at the time of the election.

Name: Gracie Allen

Year Ran: 1940

Party: Surprise Party

Votes: Unknown

Platform: “Redwood, trimmed with nutty pine.”

Gracie Allen’s presidential run started as a stunt to generate publicity for her faltering radio show, the The Hinds Honey & Almond Cream Program Starring George Burns & Gracie Allen. During her satirical campaign, Allen used her ditzy persona to poke fun at the political system. The campaign included a mock party convention, a national whistle stop tour, an endorsement from Harvard University and an invitation from Eleanor Roosevelt to speak to the National Women’s Press Club.

“My opponents say they’re going to fight me ’til the cows come home,” she said in a campaign speech. “So, they admit the cows aren’t home. Why aren’t the cows home? Because they don’t like the conditions on the farm. The cows are smart. They’re not coming home ’til there’s a woman in the White House.” Though Allen did receive write-in votes, historians can’t agree on the number.

Name: Shirley Chisholm

Year Ran: 1972

Party: Democrat

Votes: 152 delegate votes in the Democratic primary

Platform: Equal rights and economic justice

Shirley Chisholm had already made history as the first African-American woman elected to Congress in 1968, though she admitted that “sometimes I have trouble, myself, believing that I made it this far against the odds.” In 1972 she decided to defy the odds again when she made a serious bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Chisholm called herself “the candidate of the people,” but struggled for acceptance as a viable candidate. Her disorganized and underfunded campaign didn’t help—though she was fourth place for the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, she lost to Governor George McGovern (who in turn lost to Richard Nixon). Though Chisholm was not the first woman to vie for the Democratic nomination, she was the most viable up until that time—but though Chisholm is respected for her political role today (she even appeared on a stamp in 2014), she was never taken as seriously as during her lifetime as Clinton is today.

Name: Linda Jenness

Year Ran: 1972

Party: Socialist Workers Party

Votes: 83,380

Platform: Women’s liberation, no more war in Vietnam

1972 was a very good year for women presidential hopefuls, and Linda Jenness, a secretary from Atlanta, joined their ranks as the Socialist Workers Party’s candidate. Jenness actually shared the nomination with another female candidate, Evelyn Reed, who ran in her place in states where Jenness did not qualify for the ballot due to her age.

Though Jenness repeatedly challenged Democratic nominee George McGovern to a debate, he refused. Jenness predicted her own defeat, declaring that “the Socialists do not fool themselves that they have a chance of winning any major victories this year.” She was right—but she still managed to garner over 83,000 votes despite tepid press and struggles to finance her campaign.

Name: Jill Stein

Year Ran: 2012

Party: Green Party

Votes: 469,015

Platform: Green jobs and environmental protections

As a third-party candidate in a raucous election year, Jill Stein’s 2012 presidential run felt more like an afterthought than a milestone. But in fact, Stein’s presidential candidacy was the most successful ever conducted by a woman.

A physician who specializes in environmental health, Stein ran for president after two unsuccessful bids for the office of governor of Massachusetts. “People ask me why I keep fighting political battles in a rigged system,” she said in a 2012 speech. “The answer is simple. I keep fighting because when it comes to our children, mothers don’t give up.” Though Stein only managed to grab 0.36 percent of the popular vote, she still hasn’t given up—she has already announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a 2016 run.

TIME Hillary Clinton

These People Have Been ‘Ready for Hillary’ Since 1992

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Cynthia Johnson—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images Hillary Rodham Clinton during her husband's 1992 campaign

The idea that she should run is more than two decades old

With Hillary Clinton’s expected announcement Sunday that she will run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, her supporters who have declared themselves “Ready for Hillary” will finally have the chance to see whether the rest of the country is ready and willing too.

But, though that Super PAC is only about two years old, some people were ready for her to run since more than two decades ago.

When her husband Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, Hillary’s smarts—and her divisive comments about how she didn’t want her political-wife role to mean just sitting at home—drew frequent questions about whether she had the aspiration to run for office herself, perhaps as her husband’s Vice President. As the election approached, the idea of her political prospects didn’t go away. In fact, TIME’s September 1992 cover story about “The Hillary Factor” began thusly: “You might think Hillary Clinton was running for President.”

And some readers, it appeared, would not have minded if that had been the case, as this October 1992 letter to TIME, from Linda M. Mason of Mount Laurel, N.J., shows: “History will vindicate Hillary, for she is guilty only of being capable of serving as President herself.”

Even the experts agreed. In a story shortly after Clinton won the election, John Robert Starr, a conservative newspaper columnist from Arkansas, told TIME that “the best thing that could happen would be to let Hillary run the country. I know that sounds ridiculous, but she has just never failed.”

By 1993, TIME was reporting that “one poll had found that 40% of Americans believe Hillary is ‘smarter’ than her Rhodes scholar husband, and 47% think she is qualified to be President.”

And even Hillary Clinton herself hinted in the ’90s that voters should keep an eye on female candidates, if not on herself. Asked about the role of the First Lady in 1996, she conceded that the position was complicated one. “I think the answer is to just be who you are,” she said, “and do what you can do and get through it–and wait for a First Man to hold the position.”

Read the 1992 ‘Hillary Factor’ cover story, here in the TIME Vault: All Eyes on Hillary

TIME Hillary Clinton

What Hillary Clinton Did Before Her Campaign

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington on March 23, 2015.
Brooks Kraft—Corbis Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington on March 23, 2015.

In February 2013, Hillary Clinton became a private citizen for the first time in two decades. The former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State said she was retiring from public view to spend more time at home with Bill to “watch stupid movies” and “laugh at our dogs.” But her foray into private life was brief, and it wouldn’t be long before Clinton returned to politics with the grandest of goals: to become president.

Today, as she launches her second campaign for the White House, Clinton has definitively re-entered public life. But her time off was far from a vacation. Instead, Clinton was busy honing her stump speech, developing a campaign platform and carefully laying the groundwork for a massive campaign operation.

Here are some of the things Clinton did during the last two years.

She distanced herself from President Obama

One of Clinton’s greatest difficulties as a former Secretary of State in the Obama administration will be to differentiate herself from the current president, even as she expresses support for some of his policies. In an interview last year with The Atlantic, Clinton did just that: The president, she said, didn’t do enough to assist Syrian rebels early in the bloody conflict. “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad,” Clinton said at the time, “left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”

She publicly supported gay marriage

Support for gay marriage is now a central part of the Democratic platform, and the candidate who wins the nomination will have to have same-sex marriage credentials. Clinton announced her support for gay marriage in a six-minute video released in March 2013. “LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones,” telling viewers that she supported marriage equality “personally, and as a matter of policy and law.”

Some questioned her tardiness, though: Clinton’s proclamation came nearly a year after President Obama’s, and by 2013, support of gay marriage was a mainstream view. In a testy interview on NPR, interviewer Terry Gross pushed her on whether her views on gay marriage had evolved, or Clinton had concealed her true views for political reasons. “You are playing with my words,” Clinton said. “I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don’t think you did either.” As Secretary of State, however, Clinton would have been breaking a longstanding tradition of keeping mum on domestic policy if she had voiced support of gay marriage.

She offered qualified praise for Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act has been a net gain for Americans, Clinton said in a February 2014 speech, but there should be concern with how the program is affecting small-business owners. She emphatically said Obamacare should not be repealed. “Part of the challenge is to clear away all the smoke and try to figure out what is working and what isn’t,” Clinton said. “What do we need to do to try to fix this? Because it would be a great tragedy, in my opinion, to take away what has now been provided.”

She gave a lot of speeches

Clinton plunged into the lucrative paid speaking circuit in the months after she left office, getting paid upwards of $200,000 from Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle Group, the University of Buffalo and others for a total of millions in fees. She perfected her personal anecdotes, connected with audiences who could support her coming campaign and workshopped her new campaign ideas.

As a speaker, “you get to plug into the local political scene and you speak in front of large audiences,” says Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist and senior adviser in John Kerry’s 2004 and Al Gore’s 2000 campaigns. “It keeps you sharp.”

She became a grandmother

Clinton plans to share more of her personal life in this campaign. In September, her daughter Chelsea had a daughter of her own, Charlotte. Clinton has often referred to her granddaughter in speeches since her birth, telling audiences that for her, the fight for economic equality for women is personal. “Not just my granddaughter, who’s going to get all the time, attention, love nurturing that she can possibly absorb,” Clinton said at an event in March, “But I want every child to have the same opportunity.”

She prepared for a national campaign

A solid coalition of old and new Clinton allies had begun to gather around Hillary by the end of 2014, most of the top positions in her campaign had been filled by March. Robby Mook, a veteran of Terry McAuliffe’s successful gubernatorial race in Virginia, was poised to take the role of campaign manager, and Clinton tapped former Obama pollster Joel Benenson. She gave her last paid speaking event at the end of March, and her advisors took a preliminary Iowa tour in early April.

She addressed controversies

The brouhaha over Clinton’s use of a personal email account during her time as Secretary of State knocked her emerging campaign off balance, and her subsequent March press conference at the United Nations didn’t go as smoothly as her team would have liked. But Clinton got some valuable experience taking questions from a skeptical crowd of reporters. The email debate is far from over—as are other questions about donations to the Clinton Foundation—but in some ways, it’s better for her that the issue arose before her campaign begins.

She chilled out

A presidential campaign is grueling, exhausting work. Candidates get very little time to sleep and spend time with their families, much less go on vacation for a few days. After her whirlwind tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton took some downtime to hangout with her husband and her dogs.

Read Next: Hillary Clinton’s Main Obstacle: Her Own Inevitability

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary’s Game Plan: Start Small With Voters, Go Big With Donors

<> on April 1, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew Burton—2015 Getty Images Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a round table conversation announcing a childhood development initiative with on April 1, 2015 in New York City.

The second time around, Clinton's campaign will be different

When Hillary Clinton launches her campaign for president in a video message on Sunday, she’ll begin a long journey toward the Democratic nomination chastened by the tough lessons of the past.

In 2008, the apparent inevitability of Clinton’s presidency undermined her campaign, and voters in key states viewed her as indifferent and distant. She succumbed in June to a stunning loss to then-Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.

Not so this year, aides say. This election cycle, Clinton plans to run a hard-fought and intimate campaign, courting voters not as the overwhelming frontrunner that she is, but as a scrappy upstart might.

Clinton’s aides are seeking to lower expectations for what Candidate Clinton will look like on the campaign trail after she launches her bid on Sunday. Wary of appearing like the front-runner she is, aides say Clinton is planning a slow, small-scale roll-out beginning next week in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Read More: Hillary Clinton’s Main Obstacle: Her Own Inevitability

Clinton’s early plan in those states revolves around cozy interactions with voters to communicate her interest in the early states, while avoiding over-produced campaign rallies that reinforce the air of inevitability.

But can a Clinton event ever be small? As a former First Lady Clinton is surrounded by the trappings of political life: a Secret Service detail, a large political staff, an even larger press corps.

One aide mused that at some early events there may be more members of the press than voters.

Clinton has little choice but to run hard in Iowa—where her first campaign was doomed in 2008, and where skeptical progressives hold major sway in the caucuses. Clinton placed third in the Buckeye State with 29.5 percent of the vote, and aides expect long-shot rivals to rack up much more than that. “A win is a win,” said one Clinton aide, trying to tamp down expectations in the state.

In Iowa, the state where Obama first made crucial inroads and brought down the Clinton operation, voters expect intimate chats with candidates in their living rooms and huddled chats in dining rooms. Her challenge will be to appease frustrated Iowa voters who saw her as blasé and uninvested in their state.

“Iowans are going to demand answers from Hillary Clinton,” says one Democratic strategist. “She’s got to have a message, and she’s got to make a case. She didn’t do that eight years ago.”

Meanwhile, Clinton will begin raising money. The Ready for Hillary super PAC has already raised close to $15 million from nearly 150,000 donors, laying the groundwork for a grassroots fundraising operation. Major donors are waiting on the sidelines for Clinton’s announcement, and her family’s longstanding connections on Wall Street and with businesses will help fuel her through the nomination process.

Read More: How Hillary Clinton Will Handle Populist Critics

Clinton will be the third candidate to enter the race, behind Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz on the Republican side. Many Republicans, as well as likely Democratic candidates former Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Sen. Jim Webb already been touring heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire. She has consistently led in polls against her likely Democratic competitors, as well as against Republicans.

When she arrives in Iowa next week, Clinton will bring with her the reminder of her loss eight years ago.

“She has the incredible political advantage of having already run for president,” says Democratic strategist Anita Dunn, who was a spokeswoman for President Obama. “She knows what it takes and how to go about it from some of the hard lessons learned from 2008.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

Watch Hillary Clinton’s Top Political Moments Since 1992

Hillary Clinton has been a national political figure since she came onto the scene in 1992. Through her varied career as First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York, Democratic presidential hopeful and Secretary of State, she has had her share of moments in the spotlight. As Clinton prepares to announce her second run for the White House, TIME magazine has collected some of the most interesting moments from her career, from interviews to speeches to press conferences and even testimony on Capitol Hill.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s Main Obstacle: Her Own Inevitability

Hillary Clinton is a remarkable front-runner. Now she has to overcome her own inevitability

Hillary Clinton made her first pitch for the 2016 election standing in front of an American flag in Iowa the size of a local barn. An ebullient crowd of more than 5,000 Democrats was gathered for Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry last September, hay bales, pumpkins and barbecue abounded. “It is true,” Clinton said, coyly, of the rumors about her candidacy, “I am thinking about it.” The audience roared. “It’s really great to be back,” she went on. “Let’s not let another seven years go by.”

Seven months later, Clinton is packing her bags and returning to Iowa, and this time there won’t be any coyness about her ambitions. Clinton announced her campaign on Sunday with a video message on social media. Next, she’ll head back to the first-in-the-nation caucus state as the Democratic front-runner by a country mile, with sizable leads against most of her potential Republican opponents. She’s still a seasoned politician with a deep network of donors and allies and a well-funded apparatus of grassroots groups eager for her to enter the race.

But nothing goes smoothly on the road to the White House, a lesson she learned the hard way in her failed bid to secure the Democratic nomination in 2008. In the long 15 months before the Democratic National Convention, Clinton could face a rising threat from the progressive wing of her party in the form of polished former Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland or deeply liberal Senator Bernie Sanders. Though both are still long shots, they could force her to compete for support from the liberal base, potentially hurting her chances in the general election.

Even after the primary, Clinton still faces uncertainty on the campaign trail. Her longtime coziness in the ritzy Washington-to–Wall Street Acela corridor could drive away many voters, and her Republican opposition researchers are already spending millions to dig up unsavory crumbs from her past as fodder for negative television ads.

Above all, however, Hillary Clinton will struggle against the inevitability of her own campaign, the messianic pull of an office that has long eluded her and could once again be out of reach.

“Inevitability as a message is a bad message, especially when it becomes clear you’re not as inevitable as you thought you were,” says Anita Dunn, Democratic strategist and former senior campaign adviser to President Obama. Clinton, however, “has learned that nothing in politics is inevitable.”

Compared with other nominees in the Democratic field, Clinton certainly looks inevitable. O’Malley is polling at 1% and Sanders is at 4% compared with Clinton’s 66%. She also holds a remarkable lead over her likely GOP opponents, beating out former Florida governor Jeb Bush 54% to 40% in a matchup, and with even larger margins over Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Though her favorability dropped over the past month after the controversy over her private email account, she still commands a solid approval rating among voters. No candidate in recent memory has faced such a wide-open field on the opposing side.

Part of Clinton’s appeal comes from her exhaustive knowledge of Washington institutions. It would be hard to name another politician who has her varied experience. She’s been in the White House (as First Lady), a legislator (as Senator from New York) and a top diplomat (as Secretary of State). She’s visited at least 112 countries, helped broker peace agreements and sponsored more than 400 bills in her eight-year Senate tenure. Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson couldn’t fake a résumé that sparkles like that.

But polls aren’t destiny, as Clinton learned the hard way in 2007. It will be easy for her to fall into the same traps she did running against Barack Obama eight years ago, when her campaign seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. This time, she will have to fight like an underdog if she wants to win the presidency.

Dissatisfaction is already brewing among some Iowa progressives. Clinton has yet to court Hawkeye voters this year, even while O’Malley and Sanders have both made extensive tours in the state. It was Iowa, after all, that put Clinton on the road to defeat in 2008, when Barack Obama campaigned heavily and won the loyalty of heartland progressives. If Iowa voters again view Clinton as indifferent, she could embolden a progressive challenger.

And while Clinton’s experience makes her a promising leader to her acolytes, many voters view her as a cozy Washington insider, a Westchester elite in bed with New York banks and D.C. lobbyists. And though she is known among close friends and family to be to be warm and loving, Clinton has had trouble connecting with voters on the campaign trail. In 2008, after a tough loss in the Iowa primary, Clinton showed voters a more personal side. Her challenge is to make voters see her as a confidante and a listener from the get-go.

Assuming Clinton wins the nomination, she’ll face a battle-tested Republican opponent who will be in tip-top shape to take on the Democrats. But supporters argue that even without a major primary fight, she’ll be ready too.

“She’s going to be challenged every single day from two sides: by a strong field of GOP competitors, and the media,” says Ben LaBolt, a Democratic strategist who was a press secretary on President Obama’s re-election campaign. “Through that, she’ll be plenty battle ready.”

Read next: Five Other Women Who Ran for President

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton to Announce Presidential Bid Sunday, Reports Say

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington on March 23, 2015.
Brooks Kraft—Corbis Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington on March 23, 2015.

Clinton is expected to announce her second presidential run Sunday

Hillary Clinton will officially announce her second run for president Sunday in a video and on social media, according to multiple reports.

The New York Times, CNN and other outlets, citing unnamed sources, report that the Democratic frontrunner who has dominated her party’s competition in early polling will release a video showing her strong commitment to winning the nomination for 2016. The video will serve to reintroduce the former First Lady, senator and Secretary of State to the American people.

Clinton’s first trip after her announcement will be to the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, according to the reports.

If elected, Clinton would be America’s first female president.

TIME 2016 Election

Presidential Hopefuls Condemn South Carolina Shooting

The 2016 presidential field uniformly condemned the shooting of Walter Scott by a police officer in South Carolina last weekend.

In statements and interviews, several GOP presidential hopefuls weighed in on the shooting which has riveted the nation, following the emergence of a video that apparently shows officer Michael T. Slager firing multiple times at Scott, who was unarmed, before appearing to drop a stun gun near his lifeless body.

In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called the incident “just horrific.”

“For men and women who follow the law and use the training effectively, I’m always going to stand to defend them,” he said. “But that video just shook my very human being to think that someone would do that and I think anyone who’s been in law enforcement knows that’s not the way people are trained to act. And I send out my sympathy to the family involved there.”

His comments followed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who on CNN said “it’s just a terrible tragedy and I hope justice does occur.”

“I think when you look at police across our country, 98 percent, 99 percent of them are doing their job on a day-to-day basis and aren’t doing things like this,” Paul continued.

Republicans have traditionally sided with law enforcement in other instances of police-on-civilian violence, making their condemnations all the more notable.

In a tweet Wednesday evening, former Secretary of State and likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton condemned the shooting.

“Praying for #WalterScott‘s family,” she wrote. “Heartbreaking & too familiar. We can do better – rebuild trust, reform justice system, respect all lives.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a likely Democratic challenger to Clinton, tweeted” “This video is appalling but it shows why accountability & transparency are so important. It shouldn’t take a video to ensure justice.”

In a statement, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal praised authorities for swiftly bringing charges against the officer. “This is a horrific situation, and I think it is important that authorities moved quickly to bring charges. My heart goes out to the family of the victim.”

A spokesman for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry echoed those comments, saying, “This is a terrible tragedy and the governor’s prayers are with Mr. Scott’s family.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called the video “very difficult to watch and deeply troubling on many fronts,” in a statement. He added, “I also know the actions of the officer in this situation do not accurately reflect on the many valuable contributions made by thousands of law enforcement officers in South Carolina and across our nation.”

TIME reached out to the other major presidential candidates for comment, but they did not offer their reactions.

TIME Hillary Clinton

How Hillary Clinton Will Handle Populist Critics

New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Seth Wenig—AP Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to reporters at United Nations headquarters, March 10, 2015.

Bianca Acebron Peco, a smart, young and politically active New Hampshire college grad, is exactly the kind of person Hillary Clinton’s proto-campaign would love to have knocking on doors in that early primary state.

But the 22-year-old is ambivalent about Clinton.

“It’s not that I hate her,” Acebron Peco said last week at a New Hampshire Young Democrats event in the basement of a Mexican food restaurant in Nashua. “I just want someone someone new and fresh and isn’t as tied to the old ways things have always been done.”

It’s a sentiment that has been amplified recently by many in the progressive left, who describe Clinton as a centrist and hawkish insider, and complain that she is too loyal to her impressive Rolodex of corporate donors, foreign leaders and Wall Street bigwigs.

“We would consider her a corporate Democrat in stark terms,” lamented Hugh Espey, the executive director of the progressive, Des Moines-based Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “She is a middle-of-the-road Democrat that on a regular basis would pick Wall Street over Main Street.”

That groundswell of young, liberal and populist dissatisfaction with Clinton promises to be the central conundrum facing the former Secretary of State’s campaign.

After all, Clinton doesn’t necessarily need young voters like Acebron Peco, and the larger, activist Democratic base, to win the Democratic nomination. She faces very little real electoral competition at this stage in the game. But if she doesn’t win over that loyal base, strategists say she risks setting herself up for a lackluster general election that fails to inspire young people, raise small dollar donations or motivate voters to go to the polls on Election Day. A segment on the left-leaning MSNBC last year worried last year that Clinton could become the Democrats’ Mitt Romney: “kind of tone deaf and unrelatable,” in possession of “competence but no core belief.”

Progressive leaders in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire see this political landscape as both a burden and an opportunity: in lieu of a real, gloves-off primary battle, which liberal groups like MoveOn.org and Democracy For American would prefer, the populist left must fill the role of Clinton’s primary opponent.

Liberal groups, Campaign For America’s Future and National People’s Action, have stepped into that position by organizing grassroots campaigns designed to force “all Democratic candidates” (read: Clinton) into adopting the populist agenda usually brandished by liberal hero Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. That means taking concrete positions on breaking up big banks, expanding Social Security retirement benefits and providing students with a path to a debt-free college education.

“If you get activists showing up at forums across the state, lobbying them, showing up at debates, asking questions in front of crowds, that matters,” said Jim Dean, the chair of Democracy for America. “If you have that, you can hold candidates’ feet to the fire, force candidates to find their own voice on these issues.”

This week, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s “Ready for Boldness” campaign announced that more than 5,000 lawmakers and party leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, had joined in urging Democratic candidates to adopt “big, bold economic populist ideas.” Senators Al Franken and Jeff Merkley later voiced support, too.

“Anyone running for office, from President on down, should be running on big ideas that create the kind of change middle class Americans want, need, and deserve,” said Merkley in a statement provided to TIME.

While the progressive left frames their own campaigns in positive terms—an effort to ensure that all candidates embrace populist ideas—it’s also about backing the former First Lady into a corner.

After all, during her quarter century in the national limelight, Clinton has been closely associated with a raft of policies that populists specifically abhor. It was her husband’s administration that filed down Social Security and Medicare (the liberal base would like Hillary to commit to expanding them), passed NAFTA (the base would like her to reject future free trade deals) and repealed Glass-Steagall, a law that separated commercial and investment banking. (The populist left blames the repeal of Glass-Steagall in part for the massive growth of the biggest Wall Street banks and want her to promise to reinstate it.) As both a New York Senator and Secretary of State, Clinton backed U.S. military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Syria—positions that liberals generally opposed.

How Clinton reacts to this pressure remains to be seen, but most expect her to go on an careful offensive: she’ll come out of the gate sometime this week or next talking the populist talk and loudly embracing a ream of progressive policies, such as fair wages, paid family leave and universal early childhood education, that do not alienate centrists. And then she’ll punt, as quietly as possible, on the stickiest issues, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, taxing stock market transactions and raising corporate taxes.

“She has to have a credible challenger before she is pushed anywhere,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime moderate Republican pollster at North Star Opinion Research. “If you were in her shoes, why would you say something that you didn’t want to say? She won’t have to talk about anything.”

Renny Cushing, a New Hampshire lawmaker, who has been active in the left’s effort to draft Warren into the race, agreed that “there’s only one way” to get a candidate to stake out a concrete position: “If you’re in the electoral arena, you really need a candidate. You can’t do it without a candidate.”

But if Clinton avoids committing to populist position, he warned, she’s doomed in a general election. She’s got to take positions on liberal ideas such as breaking up big banks, prosecuting bankers who break federal laws and dealing with rising student debt, he argued.

“Even if at the end of the day, if Hillary is the nominee, she needs to have a political discourse,” he said. “These are the issues that inspire people. She needs to find a way to address that or she can’t win.”

Read next: How Liberals Hope to Nudge Hillary Clinton to the Left

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