Hillary Clinton declared yesterday she is running for president to help the middle class, working families and retirees, saying, "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion."

Clinton, 67, made the long-awaited announcement in an online video, which opens with several families and individuals talking about what they're doing before Clinton appears, looking into the camera and saying, "I'm getting ready to do something, too. I'm running for president."

The declaration ended months of anticipation about the unsurprising decision by the former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady to try to become the first woman president.

Clinton enters the race facing no strong early opposition for the Democratic nomination and a crowded field of Republican hopefuls as she seeks to buck history and extend Democrats' eight years of control of the White House for another four years.

The video avoids foreign policy and national security -- parts of her Obama administration record targeted by Republicans. Instead, it paints Clinton as an advocate for the middle class and working families.

"Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," Clinton says, promising to work so they can get ahead and stay ahead.

Clinton followed the video with a Twitter post announcing she is running for president.

The video stands in sharp contrast to her presidential announcement eight years ago, which put her front and center sitting in a chair as she declared, "I'm in it to win it."

Clinton will start campaigning later this week in Iowa, reports indicate, beginning her race in the state where she was upset by Barack Obama in 2008 on his way to winning the Democratic nomination and presidency.

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Clinton's candidacy seeks to break the gender barrier, much as Obama's victory in 2008 broke the race barrier, said Ruth B. Mandel, director of Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics.

"Her gender, the fact that she's a woman, will be part of the campaign for her and for the American electorate from day one," Mandel said.

But the campaign also brings her experience, and baggage, of serving in two administrations, one led by her husband Bill Clinton, the other by Obama.

Democrats will line up behind her, but the progressive wing of the party has expressed concerns she won't focus enough on income inequality and Wall Street regulation.

Republican contenders for president began their attacks before she even announced, raising questions about whether she can be trusted as they portrayed her as a potential third term for Obama.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who announced his candidacy on April 7, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who became the first declared candidate on Mar. 23, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential candidate, released anti-Clinton videos yesterday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who signaled he will announce his own presidential bid tomorrow, called her an "architect of failed foreign policy."

An ABC News poll two weeks ago showed Clinton leading Republican hopefuls.

The poll also showed Clinton far ahead of potential Democratic rivals.