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Hillary Clinton launches 2016 presidential campaign

By AP - Apr 13,2015 - Last updated at Apr 13,2015

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton has jumped back into presidential politics, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House in 2016 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 Barack Obama, Clinton and her personal history weren't the focus of the first message of her campaign Sunday. She made no mention of her time in the Senate and her four years as secretary of state, or her potential to make history as the nation's first female president.

Instead, the video is a collection of voters talking about their lives, their plans and 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 near the end.

Clinton's video and new website are scant on policy specifics. But the message made an immediate play to win the support of liberal Democrats for whom economic inequality has become a defining issue.

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

Clinton left Sunday in a van on a roughly 1,600-kilometre road trip to Iowa from her New York home. She will tour a community college there on Tuesday and visit a produce distribution company on Wednesday.

Her campaign said Sunday she would not hold her first rally and 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.

Understanding that, her staff has said 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 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.

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 e-mail 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.

Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus said Clinton's election would be tantamount to giving Obama a "third term”.

Some Republicans sought 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 would face the winner of a crowded Republican primary field that could feature as many as two dozen candidates.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a favorite among libertarians, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a champion of the ultraconservative Tea Party movement, have already entered the Republican race. Cuban-American Sen. 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 well exceed the more than $1 billion spent by each of the two nominees' campaigns four years ago.

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