Clinton hits the ground driving
HILLARY Clinton was on a campaign road trip deep into the United States heartland yesterday, after launching her bid to become the first woman to win the White House with a pledge to champion "everyday Americans".
With an eye to putting behind the jet-set image of a former first lady, secretary of state and global charity director, Mrs Clinton boarded a simple minivan as she headed from New York to Iowa, Agence France-Presse reported.
A few hours into the surprise 1,600km journey, the 67-year-old Democrat tweeted a picture of herself meeting a family at a Pennsylvania petrol station.
"When Hillary first told us that she was ready to hit the road for Iowa, we looked at her and said: 'Seriously?' And she said: 'Seriously,' " senior aide Huma Abedin said.
"This was her idea and she has been really excited about it. We've been driving for a good part of today," she added, in a conference call on Sunday from the road for supporters and reporters.
Long assumed to be the front runner for her Democratic Party's presidential nomination for next year's race, Mrs Clinton's formal entry unleashed her formidable fund-raising machine and social-media operation.
Mrs Clinton, who lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, put an end to the pantomime surrounding the worst-kept secret in US politics by posting an ad on her new Facebook page and website, and sending links to her three million Twitter followers.
"I'm running for president," a beaming Mrs Clinton said in a slickly produced video that went viral.
"Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion."
In the video, she allows a series of people - non-actors, her campaign said - to stand for those ideas: A black couple look ahead to the birth of a child; Latino brothers beam with excitement about starting a business; two men hold hands, anticipating their wedding; a young Asian-American woman looks ahead to her first job; and a white woman who says she will retire soon talks about "reinventing" herself, reported The New York Times.
For months, Mrs Clinton has lamented the stagnant wages holding back lower-income people and the concentration of wealth among a sliver of the wealthiest.
Her campaign said she will spend the next six to eight weeks building a grassroots organisation and "engaging directly with voters".
In Iowa, the first state to vote in an election year, Mrs Clinton will talk "about how to make the economy work so everyday Americans and their families can actually get ahead and stay ahead".
Confirmation that she is running has sparked a fierce Republican response.
"We must do better than Hillary," tweeted former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a likely Republican opponent.
Mrs Clinton leads opinion polls among Democrats, some 60 per cent of whom say they would vote for her in the primaries, according to website RealClearPolitics.
Mrs Clinton, who has highlighted her status as a new grandmother, leads against her Grand Old Party rivals in nearly all polls, but famed political prognosticator Nate Silver called next year's election a "toss-up".