WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton will end months of speculation and launch her highly anticipated 2016 presidential campaign on Sunday, skipping a flashy kickoff rally in favor of conversations with voters about the economic needs of middle class families and the next generation.
Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state who lost the 2008 nomination to Barack Obama, will begin this time by courting voters in living rooms and cafes in early voting states. If victorious in 2016, she would become the nation’s first female president.
The first official word of her candidacy will come in a video posted on social media and to supporters online, according to two people familiar with her plans. She will then turn to states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, looking to connect directly with voters in small, intimate settings.
The people familiar with her plans spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them publicly.
Clinton has offered glimpses in recent speeches of why she will again seek the White House. Another preview came Friday in the epilogue to the paperback version of her 2014 book, “Hard Choices.”
“Becoming a grandmother has made me think deeply about the responsibility we all share as stewards of the world we inherit and will one day pass on,” Clinton writes in the new chapter, according to a preview published by The Huffington Post. “Rather than make me want to slow down, it has spurred me to speed up.”
The Sunday announcement will mark Clinton’s formal return to politics following a two-year leave from government.
Kicking off her campaign with straight-up retail politics, where she can talk to voters one-on-one, would be a departure from how Clinton jumped into her first presidential campaign. In 2007, Clinton also launched with a video, but followed it with a large, boisterous rally in Des Moines: “I’m running for president, and I’m in it to win it.”
This time, the emphasis will be making a personal connection, rather than touting herself. Clinton allies say they hope the intimate settings will let people see a more nurturing, empathetic side, along with her sense of humor.
“I think she’s going to make sure she’s in the small venues, the living rooms, the smaller places where she can connect directly with the voters,” said Sylvia Larsen, a former New Hampshire state Senate president and a longtime Clinton supporter. “When people meet Hillary Clinton, they are persuaded. She’s very down to earth and very personable.”
By campaigning heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton hopes to avoid making the same stumbles she did in 2008, when she entered the race as a U.S. senator and a heavy favorite only to be upset by Obama.
“She’s a very decent wonderful woman, but sometimes they come out of the New York atmosphere and they’re surrounded by staff and they’re insulated. We don’t want to see that,” said Davenport, Iowa, Mayor Bill Gluba, a Democrat elected in a nonpartisan election who backed Obama in 2008.
Clinton appears unlikely to face a formidable primary opponent, though a handful of lower-profile Democrats have said they are considering campaigns. Some liberals have tried to lure Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts into the race, but she has rejected the idea.
Should she win the nomination, Clinton would face the winner of a Republican primary field that could feature as many as two dozen candidates. They could include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is expected to announce his campaign in Miami on Monday.
Republicans have been preparing for a second Clinton campaign since she left Obama’s administration in early 2013. They intend to campaign against her by equating her potential presidency to that of a “third” Obama term, during which they argue she would continue his most unpopular policies.
“I’m curious what her slogan is going to be. I suspect it won’t be ‘four more years,'” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another possible GOP candidate, said Friday.
In the past few weeks, Clinton has faced withering criticism over her use of a personal email account and server while she was secretary of state, as well as the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of donations from foreign governments.
Also, Republicans running a select congressional committee reviewing the 2012 attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, which took place during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, are investigating her decision to delete thousands of emails she has deemed personal in nature.