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Clinton’s announcement energizes left, right

An unsurprising announcement on April 10 from Hillary Rodham Clinton delighted many, regardless of party.

Republicans said good, the chief adversary has arrived.

And Democrats said good, let’s get going.

Clinton formally announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination in an online video featuring voters talking about their lives and their plans, including Jared Milrad and Nathan Johnson, who spoke about planning their summer wedding. Clinton didn’t appear until the end of the video, when she said, “I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president. Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion. So you can do more than just get by. You can get ahead and stay ahead. Because when families are strong, America is strong. So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote, because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”

The announcement ended what little speculation there was that Clinton — former first lady, senator and secretary of state — would wage a second campaign for the White House.

And, the next day, Clinton hit the road to earn votes. She and her campaign staff set out in a van — nicknamed “Scooby” — and traveled 1,000 miles from New York to Iowa, site of the first caucuses of the 2016 race for the presidential nomination. In Iowa, Clinton met with voters in a series of intimate gatherings and pledged a campaign about strengthening families, building “the economy of tomorrow” and fixing government dysfunction.

At a diner in Council Bluffs, she talked with voters, including supporter Mike Yowell. He told Clinton, “I was thrilled when you recently urged the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality. I was like ‘That’s our gal.’”

Elsewhere on the “It Starts Here” trip, she discussed the economy with voters over espressos, got congrats from supporters who signed “commit to caucus” cards, smiled in twofies and signed copies of her autobiography.

“She’s good people and she’s a great candidate,” said Jennifer Granden of Council Bluffs. “She had my vote in 2008. And there was never any question for me that she’d get it again.”

A week later, Clinton traveled to New Hampshire, another early voting state, for another series of intimate gatherings with voters.

Polls show Clinton with strong appeal among voters.

A Marquette University Law School poll released on April 16 showed Clinton would defeat Scott Walker in a general election contest 52 percent to 40 percent.

Nationally, Pew Research Center said its polling shows Democratic support for Clinton at least 15 points higher than in 2007. Looking at a general election contest, Pew said a third of voters say there’s a good chance they would vote for Clinton and 52 percent say there is at least some chance. In contrast, just 12 percent say there is a good chance they’d vote for any of the possible Republican candidates.

Still, campaign aides said the candidate will not take for granted a favorite status or that she’s the inevitable nominee. That’s one lesson learned from 2008, when Clinton placed third in the Iowa caucuses and, after a bruising primary season, lost the party nomination to Barack Obama. 

Republicans, however, assume the nomination is Clinton’s to have and unleashed a volley of searing attacks. About two dozen Republicans are preparing for the primaries and they all appear to be running against Clinton. 

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, addressing the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, denounced the “liberal, progressive worldview of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, and all of the other people who want to take the guns out of the hands of the good guys.” Later, Bush, whose father led the country into one war in the Middle East and whose brother led the nation into two wars, issued an online video saying the Obama-Clinton foreign policy team wrecked relations with allies and “emboldened enemies.” He also issued an appeal for money to block Clinton’s “liberal agenda.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who announced his candidacy on April 11 to a gathering of top donors, said, “Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. Yesterday is over — and we’re never going back.”

The first TV ad from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign debuted just after Clinton’s announcement — it was titled, “Liberty, not Hillary.” On the campaign site, Paul was selling “Hillary’s Hard Drive” — a reference to the email server she maintained while Secretary of State.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at the NRA convention, said, “People like Hillary Clinton seem to think you measure success in government by how many people are dependent on the government. I think we measure success by just the opposite: by how many people are no longer dependent on the government.”

Later, Walker tweeted, “@HillaryClinton has the same Washington-knows-best mentality people around the country are looking to move beyond. – SKW.”

Clinton’s announcement provided momentum for political groups raising money to either help elect her to the White House or to defeat her bid — at least 10 PACS exist to oppose her candidacy.

However, her official campaign is focused on building a grassroots base with small donations — collecting $10, $25, $100 contributions on the Internet.

Clinton also said she intended to make campaign finance a priority in her campaign and reaffirmed her support for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for unlimited cash to pour into politics.

“She’s tapping into a deep-seated belief among people of all political stripes that we have to reclaim our democracy from corporations and billionaires,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, a social justice group. “Americans are ready for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United, and ready for leaders who are going to make it a priority.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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