Outlining an expanded vision
Kicking off a new phase of her campaign, Clinton puts the focus on the middle class.
NEW YORK — Hillary Rodham Clinton cast herself as a fighter for Americans who have yet to share in the nation’s economic recovery, drawing inspiration from a Democratic icon as well as her own roots in public service Saturday as she launched a new phase of her second bid for the White House.
Speaking in a park dedicated to Franklin D. Roosevelt, on an island in New York’s East River that offered sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, Clinton said FDR’s legacy had inspired the administrations of both President Obama and her husband, President Clinton, and generations of families including her own.
Today, while the nation is “standing again” after the Great Recession, “we all know we’re not yet running the way America should,” she said, blaming the problems on Republicans’ “trickle-down” approach.
Clinton sought to tap into the country’s still-nagging economic anxieties and the rising populism within her own party, declaring that the “time has come” for middle-class Americans who have wondered when their hard work would pay off.
“Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers. Democracy can’t be just for billionaires and corporations,” she said. “You brought our country back. Now it’s time, your time, to secure our gains and move ahead. And you know what? America can’t succeed unless you succeed.”
The Republican “choir,” she said, had some “new voices,” but all of them were “singing the same old song: a song called ‘Yesterday.’ ”
The line served both as an accusation that Republicans would return to the policies Democrats blame for bringing about the financial crisis of 2008 and as a rejoinder to those in the GOP who have dubbed her a candidate of the past, seeking to run for a third Obama term.
On issues including climate change, economic fairness, immigration and equal rights for gays and lesbians, Clinton said it was Republicans who were out of step with the public.
“Fundamentally they reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy,” she said. “It takes an inclusive society— what I once called a village — that has a place for everyone.”
She also offered a personal qualification, drawing loud applause when she reminded the crowd that while she might not be the youngest candidate in the race, she would be “the youngest woman president in the history of the United States.”
Clinton used the highprofile speech to highlight other biographical details her campaign advisors believe many Americans continue to be unfamiliar with.
Her vision of America was not one she learned from politics, she said, but from her family, specifically her late mother, Dorothy Rodham. Abandoned as a young child, her mother survived and was an example of the importance of perseverance and hard work in the face of adversity, Clinton said.
“My mother taught me that everyone needs a chance and a champion. She knew what it was like not to have either one,” she said.
Clinton did not shy away from those characteristics that Americans are far more familiar with, including her status as a longtime target of Republican attacks.
She promised to seek partners in both parties to advance her vision, but emphasized her reputation for tenacity.
“I’ll also stand my ground when I must,” she said. “I’ve been called many things by many people. ‘Quitter’ is not one of them.”
Republicans jabbed back. Clinton’s speech was “chock full of hypocritical attacks, partisan rhetoric and ideas from the past,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Allison Moore.
Clinton launched her candidacy in April with an online video, as she had done when she began her first campaign in 2007. But she never did then what she did Saturday: hold a formal public campaign rally in which she could offer a more expansive rationale for her presidency.
Her new campaign team mostly includes people who were not part of her 2008 run, but who have closely studied the mistakes that cost her the nomination then, at a time when she was also the party’s presumed front-runner.
Her advisors bristle at the notion that Saturday’s rally was part of an effort to reboot the still-young campaign; they said it was the start of a new phase of the campaign in which she’ll begin to offer more details on the kind of presidency she envisions.
SPEAKING in New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked President Franklin D. Roosevelt and her own roots in public service. “Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers,” she said.