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Ready to run, Clinton to announce 2016 bid today

Published:Sunday | April 12, 2015 | 12:05 AM

WASHINGTON (AP): Former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will end months of speculation and attempt a second bid at becoming America's first woman president when she launches her highly anticipated 2016 presidential campaign today.

Clinton, the former secretary of state who lost the 2008 nomination to Barack Obama, will skip a flashy kick off rally in favour of conversations with voters about the economic needs of middle class families and the next generation.

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 Senator Elizabeth Warren 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 Governor Jeb Bush, the brother and son of former presidents, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who is expected to announce his campaign in Miami tomorrow.

The first official word of Clinton's 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 crucial early-voting primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, looking to connect directly with voters in small, intimate settings.

Today's 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 humour.

By campaigning heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire, which influence the rest of the state-by-state battle for party nominations, Clinton hopes to avoid making the same stumbles she did in 2008, when she entered the race as a US senator and a heavy favorite only to be upset by Obama.

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.