I want to be American people's champion and take on elite - Hillary
Hillary Clinton announced her much-awaited second campaign for the White House, posting a video declaring she will focus on greater economic security for middle-class and poor Americans.
The former first lady, US senator and secretary of state decided against a big public announcement, opting instead for a short two-minute video statement on her campaign Facebook page.
"Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion," Clinton said in the video message which features a series of men, women and children describing their aspirations. She did not appear on camera or speak until the end of the video.
She concluded by saying: "So I'm hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it's your time. I hope you'll join me on this journey."
Clinton brings a long public record to her second bid for the White House, a history that will both help and hurt her candidacy. Republicans were already pushing a message that seeks to attach her to the scandalous upheavals of her husband Bill Clinton's two-term presidency in the 1990s.
At the same time, she is probably the most recognized of any potential candidate on either side.
What's more, she intends to cast herself as a tenacious fighter determined to block the growing power of an increasingly right-wing Republican party that has sought to block President Barack Obama's agenda at every turn and now controls both chambers of Congress.
Clinton also will be fighting against a sense that she is not trustworthy, a view that has grown since she disclosed that during her stint as secretary of state she used a private, not government, email account and a server located in her New York home.
She also remains under fire from some Republicans over the September 2012 terrorist attack on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Critics say she ignored the need for greater security for American diplomats.
Republicans were quick to respond to the Clinton announcement. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said voters could not trust Clinton, raising the email issue and donations from foreign governments to the Clinton family's foundation.
"Clinton's announcement comes in the shadows of looming investigations over deletion of State Department records and suspicious foreign donations," Priebus said.
"For weeks Clinton has stonewalled the American public on unanswered questions around these many scandals. As an official candidate, Clinton must come clean with the American people."
In the face of those negatives, Clinton has huge support among Democrats, and supporters began building a campaign base well before the official announcement.
Clinton plans to follow the video announcement with a series of small events in upcoming days with residents of Iowa and other early-voting states.
Senior campaign officials said Clinton's message will focus on strengthening economic security for the middle-class and expanding opportunities for working families.
Clinton enters the race as the overwhelming favorite for her party's nomination. Still, her team has said her early strategy is designed to avoid appearing to take that nomination for granted.
By campaigning heavily in the early-voting states, Clinton hopes to avoid making the same stumbles she did in 2008, when she entered the race as heavy favorite only to be upset by Obama in Iowa's lead-off caucuses.
Should she win the nomination, Clinton would face the winner of a crowded Republican primary field that could feature as many as two dozen candidates.
Clinton is not expected to roll out detailed policy positions in the first weeks of her campaign.
Advisers said she planned to talk about ways families can increase take-home pay, the importance of expanding early childhood education and making higher education more affordable.
Clinton appears unlikely to face a formidable primary opponent, though a handful of lower-profile Democrats such as former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley have said they are considering campaigns.
Bill Clinton, the former two-term president, said recently that he wanted to play a role as a "backstage adviser" in his wife's campaign.