Hillary Clinton's quest for White House begins

Thousands join Clinton rally as former First Lady hopes to become first female president of the United States in 2016.

    Many of Clinton supporters said they felt she 'spoke to all Americans' and was 'inclusive' [AP]
    Many of Clinton supporters said they felt she 'spoke to all Americans' and was 'inclusive' [AP]

    They came by the thousands, roughly 5,500 by most estimates, to stand under the bright mid-day sun to listen to the woman who hopes to make history by becoming the first female president of the United States in 2016.

    Hillary Clinton is a familiar face to most Americans who remember her as a First Lady, and later as a senator for the State of New York, and even as a presidential candidate, running against Barack Obama in 2008 for the Democratic nomination. Now, Clinton once again has set her sights on the White House.

    Clinton used, what her campaign called a "launch rally" on Roosevelt Island, in New York, to conjure up images of President Franklin Roosevelt, who helped lift millions of Americans from poverty after the Great Depression.

    The former secretary of state told her supporters she would build upon many of the ideas of Roosevelt, if elected president. Her speech focused heavily on domestic policy touching on issues of income inequality and how she hoped to lift America's working and middle class workers though increased wages and equal pay for men and women.

    She told the cheering crowds that US tax policies currently favour the wealthiest Americans like the CEOs of corporations, and that she believed all Americans deserve a chance at prosperity.

    Needs of the middle class

    She worked hard to convince those listening, that despite the fact that she's received millions of dollars for speaking fees in recent months, she's still in touch with the needs of the middle class. Repeatedly, Clinton reminded the audience she came from modest roots where her mother was abandoned as a child and her grandfather worked for decades in a Scranton, Pennsylvania factory. She says their hard work and triumph over adversity is what still inspires her.

    Although Clinton's speech was intended mostly for a domestic audience, there were fleeting moments of foreign policy. She told her audience she has, as a former secretary of state already, "stood up to adversaries like Putin" referencing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    She also said that the US is "better prepared" to confront "emerging threats" like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, as well as cyber-security threats that continue to attack the United States.

    On these sensitive foreign policy issues, however, there was little detail other than Clinton stating that if she was in the White House, she would "do whatever it takes to keep Americans safe". In terms of foreign policy strategy the speech was thin. It was clear Clinton was targeting her message to a domestic audience and those she believes she can win over as potential voters.

    Inclusive policy

    Even though Clinton is a former First Lady of the United States, the rally did not involve former President Bill Clinton in a significant way. She only referenced her husband a few times - once while mentioning to the crowds that she's seen first hand "how hard this job is". The former president, however, was in attendance, and did join his wife on stage at the end of her speech, much to the joy of those in attendance.

    The appearance of the two Clintons, side by side, was a reminder of just how different the husband and wife team are as politicians. I covered Bill Clinton when I first arrived as a Canadian reporter in the United States, back in 1998. Bill Clinton has always had a spontaneous and energetic style when speaking in public.

    In contrast, Hillary Clinton appeared stilted in her speech delivery. It was a flawless performance, but it lacked the energy of a more unscripted event. It was obvious Clinton had rehearsed her speech, and its "punchlines", many, many times.

    Still, Clinton supporters seemed to enjoy the rally. Those I spoke to leaving the speech said they were satisfied by what they heard. Many told me they felt she "spoke to all Americans" and was "inclusive". Others said they looked forward to "hearing more from Hillary" as she campaigns in the coming months.

    They will get that opportunity. Clinton heads next to the US states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina where her campaign says she will hold "organising parties" to share her ideas face to face with small groups of potential voters. They are voters the campaign says Clinton will work hard to win over in her quest for the White House.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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