CHICAGO — What will drive Hillary Rodham Clinton’s second bid for the presidency?
To start, strengthening economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families. Those are issues her campaign says will be promoted by a results-oriented “tenacious fighter.”
The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state was expected to make her 2016 effort official Sunday with an online video, followed by small events with residents of early-voting states over the days ahead.
The campaign’s opening strategy was described ahead of the announcement by two senior advisers who requested anonymity to discuss her plans.
Clinton’s strategy sounds familiar. In 2012, President Barack Obama framed the choice for voters this way: Democrats focused on the middle class versus Republicans wanting to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led to the recession.
Clinton intends to sell herself as being able to work with Congress, businesses and world leaders, the advisers said Saturday. That approach could be perceived as a critique of Obama, who has largely been unable to fulfill his pledge to end Washington’s intense partisanship and found much of his presidency stymied by gridlock with Congress.
Ahead of the expected announcement, Republicans tried to link Clinton to Obama, a regular focus of GOP criticism.
“We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential Republican candidate, in a video Sunday.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign last week, pointed to the Clinton family’s foundation, saying it was hypocritical for the Clintons to accept from Saudi Arabia, which places public restrictions on female movement and activity.
“I would expect Hillary Clinton if she believes in women’s rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia,” Paul said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Instead, she’s accepting tens of millions of dollars.”
Clinton was not expected to roll out detailed policy positions in the first weeks of her campaign. Advisers said she planned to talk about ways families can increase take-home pay, the importance of expanding early childhood education and making higher education more affordable.
It’s not clear whether that would include a noticeable break with Obama on economic policy. The GOP has hammered Obama’s approach as anti-business and insufficient in the wake of the recession. The White House says the economy has improved significantly in recent years.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in March, but manufacturing and new home construction slowed, cheaper gas has yet to ignite consumer spending and participation in the labor force remains sluggish.
Clinton is seen as the overwhelming favorite for her party’s nomination. Still, her team has said her early strategy is designed to avoid appearing to take that nomination for granted.
The early events were expected to include discussions at colleges, day care centers and private homes, and stops at coffee shops and diners. After about a month of such events, Clinton planned to give more specifics about her rationale for running.
Clinton’s husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, are unlikely to appear at her early events.
Bill Clinton, the former two-term president, said recently that he wanted to play a role as a “backstage adviser” in his wife’s campaign. Advisers said Bill Clinton has been engaged with his wife in some of the policy discussions leading up to this weekend’s rollout.
To prepare for the campaign, Clinton has spent months meeting with economic policy experts, including Heather Boushey, whose research focuses on inequality, and Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and retirement policy expert. The policy development process has been overseen by aides Jake Sullivan and Dan Schwerin.
Clinton’s growing team of staffers began working Friday out of a new campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. They gathered Saturday to hear from campaign manager-in-waiting Robby Mook, who told them the campaign would value teamwork, respect, diversity, discipline and humility.
A memo distributed by Mook, “We are Hillary for America,” said the campaign “is not about Hillary Clinton and not about us – it’s about the everyday Americans who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families.”
A Democratic official in attendance described the meeting on condition of anonymity because it was a private strategy session. The memo was first reported by Politico.
Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.