Hillary Clinton poised to step back into presidential fray
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoHillary Clinton is expected to finally announce her candidacy for US president Sunday, ending prolonged speculation that she once again seeks to become the first woman elected to the White House.
Seven years after her bitter nomination defeat to Barack Obama, the former secretary of state and one-time first lady would enter the race as the Democratic Party's overwhelming favorite, as Clinton and her rivals gird for a bruising, 18-month campaign slog.
Her announcement is expected to be delivered via social media -- perhaps in a tweet -- and accompanied by a campaign kickoff video highlighting her economy-focused political philosophy, according to US news outlets citing sources close to Clinton operations.
It is likely to trigger a donor deluge from a vast network of supporters who have long waited for her to officially enter the race, a move that would allow them to contribute directly to her 2016 election effort.
Clinton's campaign-in-waiting has organized for months behind the scenes, bringing on key staffers and advisors, plotting outreach operations and strategizing.
On Saturday, the campaign team hunkered down in Clinton headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, where upcoming campaign manager Robby Mook reportedly delivered a memo to staff urging teamwork in the months ahead.
"We are a diverse and talented family... and have each other's backs," the memo states, according to Politico, perhaps in an effort to avoid the infighting among top aides that marred Clinton's 2008 run.
The 2016 campaign goal, the memo adds, is "to give every family, every small business, and every American a path to lasting prosperity by electing Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States."
On Saturday she earned high praise from Obama, although experts warn she will have to tread a fine line in how closely she aligns herself with the incumbent.
"She was a formidable candidate in 2008. She was a great supporter of mine in the general election. She was an outstanding secretary of state. She is my friend," Obama said at a regional summit in Panama.
"I think she would be an excellent president."
US media has been awash with fevered will-she-or-won't-she for months.
Her Sunday announcement is expected to be followed by low-key campaign swings through Iowa and New Hampshire, states that hold the first votes early next year to determine the parties' nominees.
Clinton, 67, already has a team of organizers in Iowa, a fertile political proving ground ahead of national elections.
After the campaign launch, Clinton should "jump on a bus and barnstorm through Iowa touching all 99 counties and meet with people in cafes and other small venues" as she reintroduces herself to Americans, Iowa State University professor Steffen Schmidt told AFP.
The one-time US senator and wife of former president Bill Clinton leads opinion polls among Democrats, some 60 percent of whom say they would vote for her in the primaries, according to the website RealClearPolitics.
A humble approach may help dispel doubts about Clinton raised in recent weeks, after it was revealed she used a private email account while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
But she could face uncomfortable questions about the issue from voters, including why she deleted thousands of emails that she described as personal, then wiped her server clean.
Clinton would be the biggest political headliner to enter the race, although not the first.
Conservative Republican Senator Ted Cruz, 44, made a splashy presidential campaign launch last month, and on April 7 fellow Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian-leaning first-term Republican, threw his hat in the ring.
Clinton's rollout may well steal the thunder of another Republican senator aiming for the White House, Marco Rubio, who is scheduled on Monday to make his own all-but-certain campaign declaration.
Ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush, son and brother of two presidents, is exploring a run and would be considered a Republican frontrunner should he enter the fray.