After months upon months of teasing and tickling, the announcement has finally been made official — as reports had suggested, Hillary Clinton formally announced her 2016 presidential campaign on Sunday, kicking off what's considered (rightly, given a thin-looking field) to be a dominant frontrunner campaign for the Democratic nomination. What better time to take a wander back through some of her more compelling moments as a public figure? If you're at all worried about her chances, these seven videos will show you Hillary can and should be president.
Suffice to say, if she doesn't have it in her this election season, she probably never will — after decades in the public spotlight, a four-year stint as President Obama's Secretary of State, and 15 years since she successfully ran for Senator of New York, she's clearly as experienced a presidential contender as they come. And while her last attempt to secure the nomination was thwarted by a certain Illinois Senator with a golden tongue, Hillary's no stranger to big oratory moments either. Here are some videos of the different ways Hillary can communicate with would-be voters, both in more casual moments, and when the whole world is watching.
The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995)
This was, on the international stage at least, a distinct hallmark for Clinton. Speaking before the fourth meeting of the annual World Conference on Women, Clinton uttered a phrase that would resurface in some subsequent, highly acclaimed speeches — "women's rights are human rights" — and cemented her status as a highly active, independently political First Lady. She's remained a rhetorical champion for women's rights and advancement since then, speaking on women's issues in many different forums and discussion halls.
Winning The (Awkward) Debate With Rick Lazio (2000)
If you're a New Yorker, a fan of Hillary, or just into watching kind of disastrously awkward exchanges on YouTube, this video probably serves you pretty well. Back in 2000, with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's planned Senate run stymied by his cancer diagnosis (as well as rumors of a flagrant extramartial affair), longtime Republican also-ran Rick Lazio leapt in the race just months out from the election.
Running against a sitting First Lady and a dynamic political force, Lazio must've felt he had to do something dramatic, which led to this infamous debate moment (starts at 1:10) — he cornered Clinton by her lectern, haranguing her to sign an agreement on soft money usage. it didn't exactly play with the voters — Clinton would go on to beat him by a 55-43 percent margin — and it validated Clinton's cagey strategy to politely demur at the request, leading Lazio to overstep his bounds in a costly way.
Conceding The Presidential Nomination (2008)
Possibly the most overtly emotional speech of her political career, Hillary's concession speech in June 2008 marked the end of her last campaign, setting the stage all these years later for her new one. And despite a fair amount of bitterness in some Democratic circles over he defeat, she made the speech an aspirational, inspirational affair, concluding with a reference to "that highest, hardest glass ceiling."
And although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time. That has always been the history of progress in America.
Backing Obama At The Democratic National Convention (2008)
Here's a great indication of Hillary's sensibilities as a politician — despite a fraught primary season that saw her beaten by an upstart then-Senator Obama, and a simmering debate among some of her diehards about whether they'd even support him (remember PUMA, or "party unity my ass?"), she took to the stage at the 2008 DNC and put the rivalry to rest. And while the raucously received speech was compelling across the board, she did it in just a handful of words: "No way, no how, no McCain."
Hillary's Historic LGBT Rights Speech in Geneva (2011)
If there's a common thread that Hillary likes to invoke, it's the fact that the struggle for rights for a traditionally oppressed group is reflective on the rights of everyone, and our collective cultural health. It's the sentiment that underlies her "women's rights are human rights" speech, and in 2011, she called on that same language in announcing the Obama administration's dramatic affirmation of LGBT rights.
Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. It is a violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave … To LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support, or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you, and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America. And you have millions of friends among the American people.
The Women In The World Conference (2012)
This was one of the last high-profile speeches on women that Hillary gave while still serving as Secretary of State — just one year following this appearance, and she was out of public life, likely already prepping for the colossal run she's now undertaking. And much as she stirred attentions and drew international headlines with her landmark 1995 speech, she was in full form at the 2012 event — she specifically cited the inspirational example of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who endured nearly 15 years under house arrest dating back to 1989 (transcript courtesy of the State Department).
Now, Aung San Suu Kyi, like Nelson Mandela, would have been remembered in history forever if she had not made the decision to enter politics, as he did as well. So there she is at, I think, 67, out traveling in an open car through the heat of the countryside, meeting crowds of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, absorbing their hopes that they are putting on to her. She knows that when she crosses into politics, even though it is ultimately the way change is made that can last, she moves from being an icon to a politician. I know that route. (Laughter.) And I know how hard it is to be able to balance one’s ideals, one’s aspirations, with the give and take of any political process anywhere in the world.
Weathering The Storm On Benghazi (2013)
This one is kind of a political Rorschach test, depending on your party, your ideology and your opinion of the administrations handling of the Benghazi consulate attack. Both mainstream conservatives and those on social media reacted with vocal outrage at Hillary's impassioned reaction while being questioned about Benghazi — they've tried to turn her famous "what difference does it make?" line into a representative shorthand, a referential condemnation of her entire involvement with the affair.
Of course, subsequent investigation by a GOP-led Senate panel essentially cleared the administration over the very accusations she was being grilled about, and to countless observers like myself, there's a real authority and force to this footage. It's one thing to get testy in the heat of a questioning, but it's another thing altogether to thread the needle between that and the image of an outraged, highly motivated public official. She showed both sides working in tight concert here, and it's this kind of genuineness, frankly, that she'd do well to show more of.