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    Hillary Clinton Joins Democratic US Presidential Race

    New York Senator Hillary Clinton has announced she has taken the first step toward a run for the presidency in 2008. VOA's Marissa Melton reports.

    Senator Hillary Clinton, wife of former president Bill Clinton, announced her move on her website today, saying "I'm in."

    "I announced today that I am forming a presidential exploratory committee," she said.

    Clinton, 59, criticized the Bush administration, saying after six years of his presidency it is time to renew the promise of America. She also laid out her own leadership goals.

    "Let's talk about how to end the war in Iraq and restore respect for America around the world," she added.

    She also said she wants to talk about making the nation energy-independent, free of foreign oil. And she mentioned several domestic issues, including healthcare, an issue she concentrated on during her time as First Lady in the 1990s.

    In her announcement, she stressed her middle class roots, setting her agenda to boost the prospects of the middle class whom she says has been neglected under the Bush administration.

    Clinton's announcement follows one earlier this week by another possible frontrunner, African-American Barack Obama.  He announced formation of his exploratory committee on Tuesday.

    Either candidate would be a "first" for the nation if elected.  Clinton would be the first female president of the United States, while Obama would be the first African-American.

    Republican Senator Sam Brownback of the Midwestern U.S. state of Kansas announced his candidacy for the 2008 race today.  He called for a bipartisan strategy to win the war in Iraq, and he called for a renewal of conservative Christian values.

    "To walk away from the Almighty is to embrace decline for a nation," he said.  "To embrace Him leads to renewal for individuals and for nations."

    The anti-abortion candidate also called on Americans to, "protect all innocent life."

    Brownback faces competition for the Republican presidential nomination from such possible contenders as the high-profile Senator John McCain of Arizona and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

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