Hillary Clinton Announces Candidacy to Succeed Obama

The former secretary of state finally declares her candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing, China, May 23, 2010
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing, China, May 23, 2010 (State Department)

Hillary Clinton put an end to months of speculation on Sunday when she confirmed she would seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency next year, immediately positioning herself as one of the strongest contenders to succeed Barack Obama.

The former secretary of state had been expected to declare a candidacy for months. The anticipation has discouraged other Democrats from running to the point that some in the party have expressed reservations about an imminent “coronation”. Her only real rival may be Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, a more left-wing Democrat who is less likely than Clinton to win the general election in November 2016.

In a two-minute video published on her website, Clinton said she wanted to be the “champion” of everyday Americans. “So you can do more than just get by, you can get ahead. And stay ahead.”

Clinton, whose husband, Bill, was president between 1993 and 2001, previously sought her party’s nomination in 2008 when she represented New York in the United States Senate. Although she was considered the frontrunner at the time, Obama narrowly defeated her in the primaries. Clinton went on to serve as America’s top diplomat in Obama’s first cabinet. She stepped down after he won reelection in 2012.

In the 2008 primary, Clinton won Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio, four swing states that could determine the outcome of the next presidential election. She is especially popular with blue-collar Democrats and women. Her four-year tenure as secretary of state also endeared her to independent-minded voters. She became America’s most popular politician at the time.

If Republicans nominate a reactionary candidate, Clinton would likely appeal to moderates who might otherwise considering voting Republican.

A more centrist Republican, on the other hand, could prove a challenge to her.

Jeb Bush, who is related to two former presidents, is most likely to win the Republican nomination if his rivals split the anti-establishment vote. His positions on foreign policy and national security are not all too different from Clinton’s who is hawkish relative to most Democrats. Bush also favors more liberal immigration laws and is not a strong culture warrior.

Their main argument would be over economic policy. Clinton opposed tax cuts during the Bush Administration, differed with her husband on free-trade agreements with other nations in Central and North America, supports tougher environmental laws and argued that the free market has been “the most radically disruptive force in American life.”

Bush is a traditional business conservative. As governor of Florida, he cut $14 billion in taxes and eliminated thousands of public-sector jobs. He blames rising inequality and a perceived lack of economic opportunity on a welfare system centralized in Washington DC that “traps people in perpetual dependence.”

He is also a reformer. Bush created America’s first statewide school voucher program in Florida and has actively championed conservative education reforms, including charter schools, since. Clinton opposes vouchers.