Presidential races

Hillary heads to Iowa in ‘Scooby Doo’ van

Hillary Clinton is out to prove she’s just like you. 

After the Democrat launched her long-awaited 2016 presidential campaign on Sunday, she hit the highway on a road trip to Iowa.

The campaign tactic, and the tone of her second try at the White House so far, contrasts sharply with the former secretary of State’s first bid eight years ago. 

{mosads}Casting herself as a “champion” of middle-class Americans, she portrayed herself in an online video released Sunday afternoon as someone who would take nothing for granted and who would be “hitting the road to earn your vote, because it’s your time.” 

On Sunday evening, she fulfilled that promise. According to MSNBC, Clinton left her New York home with top aides Huma Abedin and Nick Merrill, as well as members of the Secret Service, in a black van she’s dubbed the “Scooby Doo van.” The group headed for Iowa, which holds the first presidential nominating contests in the nation.

It is a notable change in the former first lady, whom critics accused of seeking a coronation last time. In 2008, the then-senator would arrive at events in the Hawkeye State in a chartered helicopter christened the “Hill-A-Copter.” 

Portraying an aura of inevitability, particularly in Iowa, backfired. She placed third in the Democratic caucuses behind then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, a setback from which her campaign never fully recovered.

This campaign will get underway with small events aimed at showing Clinton interacting with individuals, rather than with rallies before large crowds.

On Tuesday, she will visit a community college in Monticello, Iowa — with a population of about 4,000 — to hold a roundtable with students and teachers. On Wednesday, she will visit a small business in Norwalk, Iowa, a city of about 9,600.

She will not hold her first major rally until next month, according to her campaign. “She’s committed to spending the next 6 to 8 weeks in a ‘ramp up’ period,” a press release said.

The video that launched the campaign mostly featured unnamed people talking about their lives over an upbeat soundtrack. A young mother, two Hispanic brothers, a same-sex couple and a young job-seeker were among those included — nods toward some of the demographic groups that could form a winning coalition of voters for Clinton.

The candidate herself didn’t appear until a minute and a half into the two minute video.

Addressing economic inequality, which has become a high priority in recent years, especially on the left of the Democratic Party, the former secretary of State noted, “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.”

She added, “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

Whether she will be able to win over skeptics on the left remains to be seen. 

“We’re looking forward to hearing more” about how Clinton “plans to address our nation’s income inequality crisis, and stand up to the wealthy and powerful interests on Wall Street,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of liberal group Democracy for America (DFA). 

DFA is one of the organizations that have been pushing for a presidential run by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), calls that have so far been unsuccessful. 

Whether Clinton ends up facing a consequential challenge for her party’s nomination, she and her aides are trying to avoid the sense of entitlement that permeated her first White House quest and contributed to her defeat at the hands of Obama.

“We are going to fight for every single vote,” campaign manager Robby Mook said during a conference call with senators Sunday evening. “That will be the focus of absolutely everything we do.”

On the same call, campaign chairman John Podesta insisted that “this campaign will be about everyday Americans and not her.”

Clinton’s announcement had been anticipated for months. Early Sunday afternoon, there was consternation on Twitter and other social networks when reports that Clinton would announce at noon proved untrue.

The first real confirmation that Clinton was running came when an email sent to volunteers and donors by Podesta leaked on social media. “It’s official: Hillary’s running for president,” the email said.

Clinton took center stage shortly after 3 p.m., when the video appeared on her new campaign website. 

The site includes a biography of Clinton that indicates a willingness to show a more personal side of herself than she did in 2008. 

Of the five photos featured, only one shows her in a professional role. The other four show her as a child, on her wedding day, as a young mother with daughter Chelsea and as an adult with her family.

Meanwhile, the biography on Clinton’s Twitter page has been edited, with the word  “grandma” replacing “lawyer.” 

Chelsea Clinton tweeted, “Very proud of you Mom!” within minutes of the campaign being launched. 

— Jesse Byrnes, Mark Hensch and Jessica Taylor contributed.

Tags Hillary Clinton Hillary Rodham Clinton

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