Hillary Clinton launches 2016 presidential campaign

After much speculation, Hillary Clinton announced her run for president of the United States. She is the first Democrat to announce her candidacy for the 2016 elections.

Hillary Clinton is the latest American leader to announce her candidacy for the November 2016 presidential elections as the Democratic nominee, joining several Republicans who have already done so.

Clinton made the much-anticipated announcement with a promise to serve as the “champion” of “everyday Americans” in a country with growing income inequality.

Unlike eight years ago, when she ran and lost to President Barack Obama, Clinton and her personal history were not the focus of the first message of her campaign, which she launched Sunday on Youtube. She made no mention of her time in the Senate or her four years as secretary of state. Neither did she discuss the potential to make history as the nation’s first female president.

Instead, the video is a collection of everyday citizens talking about their lives, their plans and their aspirations for the future.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s video and new website are scant on policy specifics.

Looking to connect with voters, Clinton plans to head to the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. She hopes to avoid the stumbles made in 2008, when she entered the race as a heavy favorite only to be upset by Obama in Iowa.

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Clinton left Sunday in a van called Scooby on a roughly 1,000-mile road trip from her New York home to Iowa. There, she will tour a community college on Tuesday and visit a produce distribution company on Wednesday.

She will not hold her first rally or deliver a campaign kickoff speech until May.

The 67-year-old Clinton brings a long public record to her second bid for the White House, a history that will both help and hurt her candidacy. Republicans were already pushing a message that seeks to attach her to the scandalous upheavals of her husband Bill Clinton’s two-term presidency in the 1990s.

With that in mind, her staff said that she intends to cast herself as a “tenacious fighter” determined to block the growing power of an increasingly right-wing Republican Party that has sought to block Obama’s agenda and now controls both chambers of Congress.

Obama Gives Clinton a Boost

Obama said on Saturday that he thinks Clinton “would be an excellent president.” As Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton used her four years as America’s top diplomat in an attempt to rebuild US relations with countries around the world that had become critical of the American war in Iraq.

Clinton enters the race with polls showing her in a strong position to succeed Obama. However, in the last half-century, the same political party has held the White House for three consecutive terms only once, during the administrations of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

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Republicans will try to counter Clinton’s strong resume by casting her as someone who is not trustworthy. They have jumped on her use of a personal rather than a government email account and a server located in her home while she was secretary of state. They have also raised questions about donations from foreign governments to the Clinton family’s foundation, including from the Arab countries of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said Clinton’s election would be tantamount to giving Obama a “third term.”

Some Republicans are seeking to make foreign policy an issue at a time when the Obama administration is negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran and moving to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his own online video Sunday. Bush, the brother and son of former presidents, is widely expected to join the race for the Republican nomination.

Clinton appears unlikely to face a formidable Democratic opponent in the primary elections. Should she win the nomination, Clinton will face the winner of a crowded Republican primary field that could feature as many as two dozen candidates.

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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a favorite among libertarians, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a champion of the ultraconservative tea party movement, have already entered the Republican race. Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is expected to announce his bid to be the first Hispanic president on Monday.

The 2016 campaign is likely to be the most expensive in history, with total spending on both sides expected to exceed significantly the more than $1 billion spent by each of the two nominees’ campaigns four years ago.

Clinton and Israel

Clinton meets with PM Netanyahu.

Clinton meets with PM Netanyahu. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Israel’s Ynet notes Clinton’s political experience as first lady, senator and  secretary of state. She spent countless hours in meetings with Israeli leaders, including Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, and has been at the forefront of pro-Israel legislation in the Senate. However, there were some controversial moments throughout her career which have cast doubt on the firmness of her pro-Israel position.

In 2012, when in Israel serving as secretary of state, Clinton said that “protecting Israel’s future is not simply a matter of policy for me, it’s personal. I know with all my heart how important it is that our relation goes from strength to strength.” Obama, too, declared in 2012 that he would “always have Israel’s back.”

and AP