Hillary Clinton launches presidential bid

Campaign 2016
by Jamie Dean
Posted 4/13/15, 09:52 am

Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign Sunday, formally launching a second White House bid that began years ago.

In recent months, Clinton’s announcement had become a foregone conclusion among most political experts, and the former secretary of state skipped a traditional campaign rally to announce her candidacy via video.

Even the video was non-traditional, featuring clips of Americans discussing their future plans. A young mother speaks about going back to work, a college graduate mentions looking for a job, and a gay man says he’s getting married this summer “to someone I really care about.”

Near the end of the two-minute piece, Clinton, 67, adds her future plans, saying, “I’m getting ready to do something too … I’m running for president.”

Unlike 2008 when Clinton declared, “I’m in it to win it,” the candidate many see as the inevitable Democratic nominee tried to distance herself from the notion she’s set to cruise to victory. “I’m hitting the road to earn your vote,” she said.

Her first road trip will take Clinton to early-voting states such as New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, where the candidate plans to meet with smaller groups of voters instead of the massive campaign rallies that marked her 2008 bid.

Despite Clinton’s air of inevitability and colossal campaign machine honed over nearly a decade, the Democrat faces a steep climb, since it’s rare for the same political party to hold the White House for three terms. It’s only happened once since 1953: Republican George H.W. Bush won election in 1988 after President Ronald Reagan’s two terms.

Whether Americans are prepared to let Democrats hold the White House for at least 12 years may hinge on the strength of Republican campaigns. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who announced his own presidential bid last week, responded to Clinton’s campaign launch by saying, “Hillary Clinton represents the worst of the Washington machine.”

Still, GOP contenders will have to do more than convince voters to reject an establishment candidate: They’ll have articulate how their own bid will offer constructive fixes to a host of problems.

Clinton didn’t dwell on her campaign promises in her video Sunday, but she briefly mentioned economic issues, saying the current system “still favors those at the top.”

The former secretary of state notably avoided the issue of foreign policy. It’s a touchy subject for a candidate who once led international relations for the United States in a world that’s now mired in conflict and war.

Even if Clinton can distinguish herself from the terror threats engulfing countries across the globe, it’s unlikely she’ll be able to distance herself from foreign debacles that took place on her watch, chiefly the attack in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed a U.S. ambassador and three Americans.

During congressional hearings, as legislators pressed Clinton for details on why the attacks erupted in Benghazi, a defiant Clinton asked, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Republicans are likely to argue it makes plenty of difference, not as a political score against Clinton, but as a matter of how the candidate would handle foreign policy as commander in chief.

WORLD has investigated another terror attack that took place during Clinton’s tenure—Boko Haram’s 2011 bombing of the UN building in Abuja, Nigeria. The State Department has hedged on questions about whether Americans were present in the building during the attack. Meanwhile, WORLD’s request for more details through the Freedom of Information Act has languished in the State Department for over two years.

Legislators still working to discover what happened during and after the Benghazi attack were confounded to learn last month that Clinton erased thousands of emails she stored on a personal server at her home during her tenure. Though Clinton acknowledged she used the home server and a private email address for work correspondence, she insisted she only deleted personal emails from the server, which she won’t relinquish for examination.

As Clinton hits the road in the days ahead, it’s unlikely that voters in small settings at pre-arranged stops will ask her tough questions about foreign policy, But with a burgeoning 2016 campaign on the horizon, it’s also unlikely she’ll be able to avoid tough questions for long.

Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the political beat and other topics as national editor for WORLD Magazine. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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