Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign: It’s not about me, it’s about you

By Cathleen Decker, Los Angeles Times

If Hillary Rodham Clinton gets her way, there will be stark differences between her failed 2008 run for president and the White House campaign she embarked upon Sunday — and not just the end result.

This time, her aides have said for days, the focus will be on the American people, not on Clinton; on their needs and concerns and not her reach for history. The shift was abundantly clear in the contrast between her 2007 announcement video and the one she aired Sunday as she jumped into the race — each just over two minutes in length.


Last time: Clinton sitting in a sumptuously appointed living room, alone as she faces the camera. This time: She doesn't even appear in her own video until a minute and a half in, after cameos by more than a dozen people representing a demographic cross section of America. Even then the view is the back of her head.

Last time: 31 uses of the word "I," twice the use of the word "we." This time: Only five uses of the word "I" as Clinton moves to make her campaign a communal effort, and one that focuses strongly on the economic unease that has persisted during the two terms of the man who defeated her in 2008, President Barack Obama.

If Clinton's effort this time is meant to do anything, it is to undo the destructive sense last time — particularly early on — that hers was the entitled, imperial candidacy, that she was owed the White House. The new subtext is set by the last person to speak before Clinton herself, a man talking about his pride about recently joining a fifth-generation family business: "This country was founded on hard work." Clinton then enters for 43 seconds of remarks — some made over video of her talking to people — and closing with her talking from a sidewalk.


It could be the sidewalk in front of the well-appointed home in which she sat in 2007, of course, but it reads visually as if she's part of the neighborhood, not alone inside a mansion.

"I'm getting ready to do something too — I'm running for president," she says.

Then an immediate segue to the campaign's economic underpinnings, in rhetoric more associated with Democrats such as fist-shaking populist Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts, than Clinton.

"Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," she says. "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I wanna be that champion, so you can do more than just get by — you can get ahead and stay ahead because when families are strong America is strong."

Then her closing message, subtly stated: No entitlement here.

"So," she says, "I'm hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it's your time and I hope you'll join me on this journey."

Part of Clinton's challenge, of course, will be blunting Republican assertions that the entire Obama presidency — to which she is inextricably linked, as his first secretary of State — has been a failure. The video — let's face it, Clinton's first campaign ad — offers a reproach of that argument. Everyone in it is forging ahead, glimmering with optimism.

There are people planting gardens. People packing and moving for their family's betterment, not because they lost their home. A couple expecting a child, the greatest exemplar of optimism. A gay couple planning their marriage.

People renovating homes, starting new careers. It was not hard to grasp from it another Clinton theme: America, under Obama, moved from economic collapse to a frail recovery. And I'll get you the rest of the way home.