clock menu more-arrow no yes

Watch Hillary Clinton's initial presidential announcement video here

  1. Hillary Clinton will hold the first rally of her presidential campaign Saturday. Watch her April video announcing her presidential campaign above.
  2. "Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times," Clinton says in the video. "But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top." She says she wants to be a "champion" for Americans, so they can "get ahead and stay ahead."
  3. Clinton remains as the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, leading national and early state polls by 40 to 50 points.
  4. Three noteworthy challengers to Clinton — Bernie SandersMartin O'Malley, and Lincoln Chafee — have announced their presidential campaigns so far. Jim Webb is also considering a run.

Why Clinton announced her campaign in April

Clinton began her campaign in quite the historically commanding position for a non-incumbent — and in a far better position than she was in 2008. In polls of Democrats and among party elites, she was — and remains — the overwhelming choice, and to many, the only plausible choice.

Initially, it seemed that this advantage would let Clinton be one of the last candidates to start officially running, not one of the first — as she seemed to prefer. Clinton does not love the campaign trail, and was not eager to get back there. In her famous emotional moment just before the 2008 New Hampshire primary, she discussed, in part, how "tired" the grueling campaign had made her, and how "difficult" life "on the road" was.

So in early 2015, she was reportedly considering a kickoff as late as July. But Democrats were restive. Many in the party felt that all their eggs were in one basket — and that, if they were pinning all their hopes on her, she should make a concrete declaration of interest, rather than postponing things indefinitely. And outside groups supporting her were having difficulty raising money.

Then in March, the Wall Street Journal's Peter Nicholas and Carol Lee reported that Clinton "would enter the presidential race sooner than expected, likely in April" to "allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising." They reported that John Podesta, Clinton's campaign-chair-in-waiting, was an "influential proponent of an earlier announcement."

Shortly after this report, the controversy over Clinton's use of personal email for State Department business erupted. Many viewed the response from her small team as lacking, and came to believe that Clinton needed to get a professional campaign team in place quickly. So hiring ramped up, and Clinton has become the third noteworthy presidential candidate to announce she's running (after Ted Cruz and Rand Paul).

What did Clinton's announcement change?

Traditionally, the answer here would be that now that Clinton is an official candidate, she can begin fundraising for her campaign.

But the rise of Super PACs and outside groups has complicated this logic somewhat. Jeb Bush, for one, is delaying his campaign launch so he can personally raise as much money for his Super PAC as possible. Once he declares his candidacy, he will only be able to ask for a few thousand dollars from each donor. (The Super PAC can keep raising unlimited funds, he just can't personally ask for it.)

Though Clinton could have spent her "pre-candidacy" period fundraising for a political operation like Bush is, she has opted not to. So the start of her campaign indeed meant the start of an intense fundraising period for her.

But that's not the main benefit — everyone knew Clinton could raise money. The announcement instead allowed Clinton to get out on the trail, commenting on issues in the news, interacting with voters in early states and rolling out policy proposals like her call for automatic registration of 18 year olds to vote.

Still, she didn't hold any official, traditional campaign rallies in April or May. Saturday's Roosevelt Island announcement will be the first event of this type, and will serve as a belated ceremonial kickoff to a campaign that's already been launched.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.