Hillary Clinton officially kicked off her presidential campaign today, making her most extensive pitch yet on why she should be president, framing her candidacy as a choice between forward-thinking policies, and the failed ones of her Republican opponents
"Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you so very, very much," Clinton said as she took the stage under a hot sun for the rally on Roosevelt Island, which is in the East River between Manhattan and Queens.
"Here on Roosevelt Island I believe we have a continuing rendezvous with destiny, each American and the country we cherish," Clinton said, wearing her signature blue pantsuit. "I am running to make the economy work for you and every American for the successful and the struggling."
Clinton went on to give examples of people she is running for -- nurses who work the overnight shift, veterans who serve the country, small businesses workers took a risk -- and "for everyone who's ever been knocked down but refused to be knocked out."
"I am not running for some Americans, but for all Americans," Clinton said.
This kick-off rally has been the most anticipated moment of Clinton's campaign, which soft-launched two months ago in an online video.
A few thousand people attended the event, including former President Bill Clinton and their daughter Chelsea, who joined Clinton on the stage after the rally.
Bill and Chelsea Clinton join Hillary Clinton on stage after rally pic.twitter.com/a8dla1xJys— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) June 13, 2015
Following a pre-program that included remarks by a DREAMER and a performance by the pop band Echosmith, Clinton came on stage, as the song "Brave" by Sara Barellis blasted overhead.
In remarks that focused on her late mother, Dorothy Rodham, Clinton laid out the rationale for her candidacy as someone who will be a "champion" and fighter for everyday Americans.
"My mother taught me that everybody needs a chance and a champion," Clinton said. "She knew what it was like not to have either one."
Clinton's mother, who passed away in 2011, lived a harsh childhood with trauma and abandonment, and she said her mother's story taught her valuable lessons about resilience and has encouraged her to run for president.
"I think you know by now that I have been called many things by many people. Quitter is not one of them," Clinton said. "Like so much else in my life, I got this from my mother. When I was a girl she never let me back down from a bully or barrier."
The rally, which was open to the public, was her largest event yet as a candidate and marked the end of the "ramp-up" phase of her campaign. The turnout was large, but the overflow area set up by the campaign was relatively empty.
Clinton's 9-month-old granddaughter, Charlotte, did not attend the rally, however she did not go without mention.
"Well, I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States," Clinton said, to applause. "And the first grandmother as well," she added.
During her remarks, Clinton also re-introduced her vision for the country and touched generally on the policy issues -- particularly domestic ones, such as voting rights, equal pay for women, climate change, LGBT equality and affordable college -- that she has said she will make a priority of her campaign. She also laid out what aides say would be a choice between her ideas and those of the Republican presidential hopefuls.
"Now there may be some new voices in the presidential Republican choir," Clinton said, with a smirk. "But they're all singing the same song. It's called 'Yesterday.' You know the one."
The Republican National Committee, which has already spent roughly a quarter of a million dollars on its Stop Hillary campaign, and was handing out sunglasses that read "#Shady" at the rally today, has called Clinton's remarks hypocritical.
"Hillary Clinton's announcement speech was chock full of hypocritical attacks, partisan rhetoric and ideas from the past that have led to a sluggish economy leaving too many Americans behind. Next year, Americans will reject the failed policies of the past and elect a Republican president," RNC Press Secretary Allison Moore said in response.
Over the past two months, Clinton's campaign events have consisted of small, intimate roundtables. During this next phase, things are expected to get bigger. Clinton will start holding more large rallies and town halls.
Following the rally, Clinton planned to make back-to-back visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. She is expected to use many of the same talking points and themes, including her mother's story, with her on the road.