17:15 GMT – AFP IS NOW CLOSING ITS LIVE REPORT on Hillary Clinton’s debut campaign rally.
Nearly two months after officially jumping into the race, announcing her candidacy with a humble low-key video online, the Democratic fruntrunner unleashed the razzle dazzle Saturday with a major rally in New York City.
Energetic and on message, Clinton unveiled a progressive platform. She also launched attacks on the Republicans in the 2016 race for rejecting the politics of inclusion, arguing that she would be a “president for all Americans,” unifying a nation cleaved by bitter partisanship.
As we sign off, Clinton continues to work the crowd. Her next campaign stops? Later in the day and Sunday in Iowa, the state that votes first early next year in the race to determine the nominees of the two parties.
17:01 GMT – Handshakes and selfies – Clinton has concluded her roughly 50-minute address to the crowd at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York. It was a speech that touched on themes of renewal, expanded rights for all, progressive politics mixed with economic optimism.
“I am running to make the economy work for you and for every American,” she said.
Her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea joined her onstage, and they circled the platform waving and giving thumbs up before Hillary stepped down to join supporters.
She took semi-formal photos with relatives, and some special guests, then plunged into a crowd of supporters who shook hands and snapped selfies with the candidate.
16:46 GMT – No ‘quitter’ – Clinton, wrapping up her campaign rally speech, said she’s eager to seek common ground with her opponents. “But I’ll also stand my ground when I must.”
Americans may “differ, bicker, stumble and fall. But we are at our best when we pick each other up,” Clinton said. And she recognized her own faults: “Lord knows, I’ve made my share of mistakes,” she said.
But she was adamant that her coming up short in 2008 in her battle for the Democratic nomination against Barack Obama has not dulled her political ambitions. “I’ve been called many things by many people. ‘Quitter’ is not one of them,” she said.
And in a nod to her status as a veteran politician, Clinton, 67, said that “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.”
16:35 GMT – ‘Path to citizenship’ – Deep into her policy platforms, Clinton reiterated her desire to see reform to the immigration system.
“We should offer hard-working, law-abiding immigrant families a path to citizenship, not second-class status,” she said.
She also hammered the excesses of dark money in US elections, saying the mega-millions donated to outside spending groups is “distorting our elections… and drowning out the voices of our people.”
16:22 GMT – Campaign trail heat – It is a beautiful day in New York for Clinton’s rally, without question. Rain clouds have given way to bright sunshine, and the mercury is on the rise — already 81 degrees. Lots of people are sheltering under the trees that line the river.
That said, Clinton expressed eagerness to “lead the global fight against climate change,” stressing that as president she would “make America the clean-energy superpower of the 21st century.”
16:13 GMT – More hits from Hillary – Clinton is in full-throated shame-and-blame mode, describing a head-in-the-sand approach by her Republican rivals and savaging the “top-down economic policies that failed us before.”
“We don’t hide from change, we harness it,” she boomed, to a loud roar.
Republicans, the Democratic White House hopeful insisted, ignore climate change, refuse to support equal pay for women, and “turn their backs on gay people who love each other.”
“There may be some new voices in the presidential Republican choir, but they’re all singing the same old song; a song called ‘Yesterday,'” she said.
16:03 GMT – ‘America’s basic bargain’ – Hillary Clinton pays homage to her husband Bill for balancing the budget and helping low-income workers raise their wages. And she highlights the long-standing American compact, what she called “America’s basic bargain: If you do your part, you ought to be able to get ahead.”
She praised the performance by the current president, Barack Obama, saying “When President Obama honored the bargain, we pulled back from the brink of depression, saved the auto industry, (and) provided health care to 16 million working people.”
And, perhaps as expected, she took quick digs at the “false promises” offered by the last Republican president, George W. Bush, who she reminded “cut taxes for the wealthiest (and) borrowed money from foreign countries to pay for two wars.”
15:54 GMT – Clinton on stage – Hillary Clinton takes the stage! With the strains of “Brave” by Sara Bareilles blasting, and amid a huge roar, the Democrat strides on stage wearing an electric blue pantsuit. She waves and gives a thumbs up sign to supporters as she walks across the super-sized H logo stage.
Her husband and daugher are watching from the sidelines.
In one of her first statements, she describes how she is happy to be in Roosevelt park honoring an inspiring past president and to be “in a place with absolutely no ceilings.”
Clinton takes the stage
15:45 GMT – The scene – A large crowd has patiently squeezed into the relatively limited open space in front of the stage — which, naturally, is in the shape and colors of Clinton’s ubiquitous “H-with-an-arrow” logo.
Earlier it was rock band Echosmith whipping up the crowd, performing their signature hit “Cool Kids.” Many in the audience are waving small US flags. The United Nations headquarters is visible across the river, as are Queens apartment buildings.
AFP reporter Jennie Matthew — follow her on Twitter: @jenniematthew — describes a “very optimistic and happy vibe.” Many in the crowd are chanting “Hillary! Hillary!”
15:37 GMT – The 2016 race – Clinton, a former secretary of state, US senator from New York, and first lady to president Bill Clinton, is the frontrunner in the 2016 contest.
On the Democratic side, her competition to date consists of US Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist-leaning independent running for the Democratic ticket; Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland; and Lincoln Chafee, who was the Republican governor of Rhode Island and a US senator before changing to the Democratic Party.
The Republican field is far broader: Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham; former senator Rick Santorum, former Texas governor Rick Perry, retired neurologist Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former New York governor George Pataki, and Arkansas ex-governor and preacher Mike Huckabee.
Jeb Bush, son and brother to two presidents, is expected to jump into the race on Saturday.
15:30 GMT – A grander scale – After several weeks of intentionally low-key events, Clinton is embracing a far grander spectacle here at the southern tip of the island, where Manhattan’s gorgeous skyline across the East River frames the backdrop.
AFP’s Jennie Matthew, who is at today’s rally, is reporting that Clinton is expected to be joined by husband Bill and daughter Chelsea in the family’s first joint appearance of the campaign.
“Everyone deserves a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. That’s the dream we share. That’s the fight we must wage,” Hillary said in a video released Friday.
15:15 GMT – WELCOME TO AFP’S LIVE REPORT on Hillary Clinton’s first major rally of her 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton, the former secretary of state, has criss-crossed early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire since she announced her candidacy two months ago, hosting intimate roundtables with students, workers and small-business owners.
Today is the Democratic frontrunner’s debut event on the big stage — a public rally on Roosevelt Island in New York City.