Clinton formally launches White House bid, evoking FDR

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE has been running for president for weeks, but that was just her warm-up act.

The former secretary of State and first lady formally launched her bid to become the nation’s first female president Saturday, with a campaign rally attended by thousands of supporters on New York’s Roosevelt Island.

Clinton served in a key post in the administration of one president, her 2008 rival Barack Obama; she’s married to a former president, Bill Clinton.

By choosing the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park as the site to kick off her second White House run, Clinton is trying to tie herself to the legacy of a third U.S. president and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt, one of her role models.


“President Roosevelt called on every American to do his or her part, and they answered,” said Clinton, standing on a massive stage molded in the form of her blue and red campaign logo.

“It’s America’s basic bargain – if you do your part, you ought to be able to get ahead,” she continued. “When everybody does their part, America ought to be able to get ahead too.”

The daughter of a housemaid and granddaughter of a Scranton, Pa., millworker, Clinton hit on populist themes throughout her speech, saying she wants to fight for all Americans.

“America can’t succeed unless you succeed,” she told throngs of supporters waving tiny American flags. “Democracy can’t be just for corporations and billionaires. It’s your time to secure gains and move ahead.

“That’s why I am running for president of the United States of America.”

In her roughly 45-minute speech, Clinton made only a passing reference to the battle over trade, which has divided Obama and congressional Democrats. And she continued to avoid taking sides in the intraparty spat.

“Advances in technology and the rise of global trade have created whole new areas of economic activity and opened new markets for our exports,” she explained, “but they have also displaced jobs and undercut wages for millions of Americans.”

The Democratic frontrunner also didn’t mention any of her primary challengers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who still trail far behind in the polls.

But Clinton slammed Republican opponents with an extended riff on the Beatles classic “Yesterday.”

“There may be some new voices in the Republican choir,” she said of the GOP’s 2016 field. “But they’re all singing the same old song. It’s a song called ‘Yesterday.’ They believe in yesterday.”

“These Republicans trip over themselves promising lower taxes and less regulations for wealthy corporations without any regard for what that will do to income inequality,” she said.

She accused Republicans of trying to kill Obamacare, which she warned would deprive 16 million Americans of health insurance. And she said Republicans “turn their backs” on gay people and want to “deport” undocumented immigrants who pay taxes.

“They reject what fundamentally makes an inclusive economy and an inclusive society, what I once called a village,” Clinton said, referencing her book “It Takes a Village.”

On national security, Clinton pledged to do what it takes to keep the country safe, and gestured toward the rebuilt World Trade Center behind her. She was the junior senator from New York on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“I was in the situation room on the day we got Bin Laden,” the former secretary of State noted. “I have stood up to Putin and reaffirmed our relationship with allies like Israel.

“We all know that in order to be strong abroad, we have to be strong at home.”

Clinton also railed against the “endless flow of secret, unaccountable money” in politics.

“We need justices on the Supreme Court who will protect every citizens’ vote, rather than every corporation’s attempts to buy elections,” Clinton said.

But Clinton noted her unique position as not only a woman candidate, but a former first lady.

“I know how hard this job is,” she said of the presidency. “I have seen it up close and personal.”

“I may not be the youngest candidate in this race,” Clinton said. “But I will be the youngest woman president in the history of these United States.”

“And the first grandmother as well,” she quipped.

After her speech, Clinton was joined on stage by President Clinton, their daughter Chelsea Clinton, and Chelsea’s husband Marc Mezvinsky. As the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” played, the presidential hopeful gave a thumbs-up, clapped her hands and waved to supporters.  

Later Saturday, Clinton will head to Iowa, where she’ll speak with volunteers and supporters helping to build her grassroots campaign. She’ll then travel to three other early primary states in the coming days — New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — in a bid “to work for and earn every vote,” campaign aides said.

In a nod to the importance of the youth vote, California indie rock band Echosmith fired up the crowd with a set list that included their hit “Cool Kids.”

Timothy Kelly, a Pennsylvania native and music student at Temple University, sang the National Anthem. And the Brooklyn Express Drumline, comprised of young minorities from some of Brooklyn’s underserved neighborhoods, performed as well.

Andrea Gonzales, a DREAMer from Houston, spoke about her immigrant experience.

While supporters waited for Clinton to speak, the public address system played a series of songs by young female singers, including Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson.

- Updated at 2:08 p.m.