Hillary Clinton held the first major rally of her 2016 run for the White House, delivering a fiesty, humorous and personal speech in which she promised to promote equal opportunity and fight for a hard-pressed middle class.
Outlining a progressive agenda in a nationally televised address at Roosevelt Island in New York, Clinton told thousands of supporters she was running for president for all Americans, including those left behind after the recession.
"America can't succeed unless you succeed. That is why I am running for president of the United States," she said to huge cheers and to chants of "Hillary, Hillary."
"Prosperity just can't be for CEOs and hedge fund managers. Democracy can't be just for billionaires," she said. "Prosperity and democracy are part of your basic bargain, too."
Clinton, a Democrat, launched a stinging attack on the Republican Party, referencing the crowded field of candidates vying to run against her as out of touch with a diverse electorate.
"I am running to make the economy work for you and for every American," she said, referring to nurses on night shifts, plumbers, farmers, veterans and small-business owners.
She also pledged to "stop the endless flow of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections." Clinton said that if necessary, she would support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court decision lifting caps on campaign funding known as Citizens United.
The former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady told voters she understood their problems, as she spoke about the disadvantaged background of her mother, who was forced to work as a maid at an early age after being abandoned.
She peppered her speech with disarming humor while highlighting the historic nature of her presidential run and her four decades of public service.
"I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States. You won’t see my hair turn gray in the White House. I’ve been coloring it for years," she said to laughter and applause.
Clinton, referring to the long-running Republican attacks against her, said, "I've been called many things by many people, but 'quitter' is not one of them."
She presented herself as the heir of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, saying she would continue his work and that of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and current President Barack Obama.
"Prosperity must be shared by all," she said, calling for equality of opportunity, jobs, security, civil liberties, a rising standard of living and marriage rights for gays.
Clinton will begin campaigning in Iowa on Sunday.