WASHINGTON -- Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Sunday she is running for president, saying, "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion."

Clinton, 67, made the announcement in a 2-minute and 18-second 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 decision by the former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady to again try to become the first female president.

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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.

The video paints Clinton as an advocate for the middle class and working families by showing images of a mix of races, ethnicities, ages and genders, including same-sex couples. It avoids foreign policy and national security -- parts of her Obama administration record targeted by Republicans.

"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 in the video. It is upbeat, with Clinton smiling as she makes a direct appeal for votes: "So I'm hitting the road to earn your vote, because it's your time and I hope you'll join me on this journey."

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The video stands in sharp contrast to her presidential announcement eight years ago, which had her sitting in a chair declaring, "I'm in it to win it."

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

 

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Trying to make history

Clinton's candidacy seeks to break a historic barrier, much as Obama's victory 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.

Although she has no clear Democratic challenger, the progressive wing of the party has expressed concerns she won't focus enough on income inequality and Wall Street regulation.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Clinton's Senate campaign manager in 2000 and a progressive standard-bearer, appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

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"There's a lot of new issues for Hillary to address, and it's a chance for her to offer a bold vision," de Blasio said.

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

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who announced his candidacy last Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who became the first declared candidate on March 23, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential candidate, released anti-Clinton videos Sunday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who signaled he will announce his own presidential bid Monday, called her an "architect of failed foreign policy."

An ABC News poll two weeks ago showed Clinton leading Republican hopefuls and ahead of potential Democratic rivals, including Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Sunday endorsed Clinton's candidacy.

Schumer, at his midtown Manhattan office, cited Clinton's "empathy, intellect and passion," adding "I'm so glad she's officially decided to run for president in 2016."

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Cuomo, at one time believed to be eyeing a 2016 White House run, led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Bill Clinton administration. In a statement, he called Hillary Clinton "a tested leader with the resilience and experience to be a great president."

 

Lessons from 2008

Clinton has appeared determined not to repeat the mistakes she made when she ran for president the first time, also as a front-runner. A campaign memo stresses humility and avoiding internal clashes.

The campaign is also gearing up to raise as much as $2.5 billion. Clinton also has started to remake her image, softening it from her sometimes hard-edge version eight years ago. She recently published an epilogue to her book "Hard Choices" in which she wrote in very personal terms about the birth of her first grandchild, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, on Sept. 26.

Bill Clinton has said he intends to be her "backstage adviser," and her daughter, Chelsea Clinton Mezvinsky, 35, is also expected to play a role.

Since stepping down as the nation's top diplomat in 2013, Hillary Clinton has taken a role in her husband's foundation and given paid speeches.

She resigned from the board of the Clinton Foundation, the foundation said late Sunday.

The charitable operation has been the mainstay of Bill Clinton's post-presidential career and has come under renewed scrutiny for accepting foreign donations while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Her last paid speech was hosted by Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, a Democratic national committee member, who said enthusiasm is running so high that donors are calling to ask where they can send checks for her campaign.

Jon Cooper, a former Suffolk County legislator and the first Long Island politician to endorse Obama, said he felt "meh" about Clinton's campaign, but would support and raise money for her.

With Emily Ngo,

Maria Alvarez and

The Washington Post