Hilary Clinton to try again for top White House spot

Hillary Clinton’s campaign will emphasise her plans to address economic inequality.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivering a speech during a conference at the National Auditorium in Mexico City. Hillary Clinton launched her bid 12 April, 2015 to become the first woman to win the White House. Picture: AFP.

NEW YORK/WASHINTON - Hillary Clinton will try again on Sunday to crack what she calls "the highest and hardest glass ceiling" when she starts a long-awaited second run for the White House as the prohibitive Democratic front runner.

Clinton's campaign for the November 2016 election will emphasise her plans to address economic inequality and will tout the historic nature of her bid to become the first woman US president, aides said.

One of her biggest challenges will be to show a more down-to-earth side while connecting with ordinary voters. Critics, including progressives within her own party, say that after decades as the wife of former President Bill Clinton, a US senator and secretary of state she has grown out of touch.

Posters have appeared around Clinton's Brooklyn campaign offices, hanging from traffic lights and pasted on telephone boxes, depicting her face lined with exaggerated wrinkles and bearing the slogans: Ambitious, Calculating, Insincere and Secretive.

A few hours before the expected launch, the comedian Kate McKinnon lampooned Clinton, 67, on the influential television sketch show Saturday Night Live, portraying her as a detached, self-obsessed and power-hungry candidate in a spoof announcement video.

In a memo made public on Saturday, Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook told staff that while the goal was for Clinton to win the presidency, the campaign was not about her but "everyday Americans".

"We are humble: we take nothing for granted, we are never afraid to lose, we always out-compete and fight for every vote we can win," he said in the campaign memo, titled "We Are Hillary for America".

Clinton, who lost a heavyweight Democratic nominating battle to Barack Obama in 2008, was expected to announce her campaign on video and social media sometime on Sunday afternoon.

She will travel soon afterward to Iowa.

PRE-EMPTIVE ATTACK

Even before the much-anticipated announcement on Sunday, potential Republican opponents took swings at Clinton, with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush criticising her guidance of US foreign policy as secretary of state.

"We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies," Bush said in a video released by the political action committee Right to Rise.

Bush, brother to former President George W. Bush, is currently exploring a presidential bid.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who formally began his campaign for the Republican nomination last week, made the rounds of Sunday talk shows to slam Clinton's handling of a 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

In her memoir Hard Choices, Clinton dismissed the Republican criticism of her handling of the attacks as exploiting a tragedy for political gain.

Paul also released an attack ad accusing Clinton of being out of touch and representing the worst of "the Washington machine."

The ad was slated to air on cable television in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, which hold the first nominating contests in 2016.

SOME LIBERALS SCEPTICAL

Clinton operatives, meanwhile, have already begun reaching out to top bundlers to urge them to start calling people in their donor networks, a source familiar with the matter said.

At least one West Coast bundler began making calls to top donors this past week, and will place another round of calls after the announcement Sunday, the source said.

Many Democrats have eagerly awaited Sunday's announcement since the day in June 2008 when Clinton pulled out of her primary battle against Obama with an expression of regret that she could not crack "that highest and hardest glass ceiling this time".

But Clinton still has to convince some liberals that she is the best candidate to tackle issues like income inequality and the power of Wall Street banks.

Some liberal groups are pushing Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, a staunch foe of some Wall Street practices, to challenge Clinton.

Opinion polls show Clinton has a huge lead over potential 2016 Democratic rivals, and few are expected to enter the race.

A Reuters-Ipsos tracking poll shows Clinton backed by more than 60 percent of Democrats.

Warren, who says she is not running, is a distant second at 18 percent.

On Saturday at the Americas summit in Panama City, Obama said at a news conference that Clinton would make an "excellent president."

Germany's foreign minister welcomed Clinton's expected announcement.

Writing in Germany's top-selling Bild daily on Sunday, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Clinton has been a reliable partner for Europe and "has also proven she has sure instincts in world crises - from Afghanistan to the Middle East."

So far, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and former US Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, whose support languishes in single digits in polls, are the most prominent Democratic contenders to take steps towards challenging her.