Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to give the impression that her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is more of a coronation than an election. On Sunday afternoon, she proved it. Her first official acknowledgement that she is running for president took the form of a two-minute and 18-second video published on Facebook and YouTube. Clinton doesn’t even show up until the 1:33 mark.
The video shows various Americans – middle class workers, immigrants, gay couples, members of minority groups, parents – all talking about their plans for the future. A young mother is preparing to move so that her daughter can attend a better school. Two Spanish-speaking brothers prepare to open a new restaurant. An African American couple plans for the birth of their son. A gay man talks about his plans to marry his partner.
“I’m getting ready to do something too,” says Clinton, when she finally appears. “I’m running for president. 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. So you can do more than just get by; you can get ahead, and stay ahead. Because when families are strong, America is strong.”
The video concludes with Clinton promising to work for Democrats’ votes.
“So, I’m hitting the road to earn your vote,” she says. “Because it’s your time and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”
Clinton is expected to immediately begin a lengthy round of small-venue appearances across key primary and battleground states, a tactic reminiscent of the “listening tour” that launched her successful run for an open Senate from New York in 2000.
The announcement Sunday afternoon took place after the Sunday talk shows were over, meaning that Republicans appearing on the weekly political gabfests were left to speculate about a Clinton announcement rather than having something tangible to criticize.
However, the inevitability of Clinton’s eventual entry into the race had given the GOP plenty of time to prepare, and both the party and some of Clinton’s potential Republican opponents went after her well in advance of the announcement.
Appearing on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, “She’s trying to portray this aura of inevitability,” but countered by claiming that there is nobody he’d prefer to see the eventual Republican nominee run against.
“I think if you look at the facts of the case, which is where I really would like to stay as chairman of the party, if you look at the facts of the scandal that surrounds her, you look at the facts of the recent polling here a majority of people in battleground states say that she is untrustworthy,” he told host Bob Schieffer. “When you look at the fact that she has 100 percent name ID…she has pure saturation. Yet, she’s losing to a number of our candidates in those battleground states that have a third of her name ID.
“So if you were me, and you were chairman of the national party and you had someone on the ticket who would unite your party would help you raise a lot of money and help you recruit a ton of volunteers, you’d want nothing more than Hillary Clinton to be on the other side,” he said.
Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky who announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination last week, appeared on several of the shows Sunday morning, blasting Clinton for her fundraising on behalf of the Clinton Global Initiative, the charitable foundation run by Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Among other criticisms, Paul said that it is hypocritical of Clinton to claim to be a protector of women’s rights when her foundation accepts millions of dollars from countries that systematically suppress women and deny them basic civil rights.
“Hillary Clinton has taken money from countries [where] rape victims are publicly lashed,” he said, referring to Saudi Arabia. “I would expect Hillary Clinton, if she believes in women's rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia. Instead, she's accepting tens of millions of dollars,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an unannounced candidate for the Republican nomination, released his own video criticizing Clinton, in advance of the release of her announcement video. In it, he does what virtually any Republican running against Clinton will try to do: tie Clinton to President Barack Obama, who is enormously unpopular with Republican primary voters.
“We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy, which has damaged relationships with our allies, and emboldened our enemies,” Bush said. “Better than their failed big government policies that grow our debt and stand in the way of real economic growth and prosperity.”
The general expectation among the media was that Clinton’s organization, called Hillary for America, would release the video at about noon. However, for reasons that were unclear, the announcement, such as it was, didn’t go live until 3 p.m. The perceived delay was the subject of much grumbling from political reporters, many of whom spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon in their offices waiting for the announcement.
Teddy Goff, who works with the Clinton campaign’s digital strategy team, appeared to troll reporters at noon Sunday with a tweet remarking on the beautiful weather.
Beautiful day out there!— Teddy Goff (@teddygoff) April 12, 2015
It was an unusual strategy, to say the least, given Clinton’s fraught history with the Washington press corps. Her top advisors, just last week, went so far as to hold private, off-the-record dinners with reporters to provide insight into the campaign’s plans.
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