When Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 presidential run Sunday with a Youtube video, it wasn't what many expected, and it goes a long way toward articulating what Clinton's goals are for her campaign. Only introducing the former Secretary of State after a minute and a half, Clinton's 2016 announcement video first features 11 Americans talking about how they're entering some new phase of their lives, from marriage to parenthood to retirement, from a role in the school play to a new job to a new crop of homegrown tomatoes. The video is heavy on stories of parenting and relationships — for a long time, it's hard to tell if you're watching a cereal commercial or a Dove ad. And it's a far, far cry from the way Clinton announced her 2008 campaign. There was a video then, too, but it was accompanied by a statement that focused heavily on the sins of George W. Bush and included the battle cry, "I'm in and I'm in to win."
That aggressive approach probably fit the time — Clinton faced a formidable opponent in Barack Obama, whereas the Democratic field is currently hers for the taking. The 2016 video, however focuses much more on presenting an accessible, service-oriented Hillary to whom everyone — and given the diversity of those represented in the video, she hopes to appeal to literally everyone — can relate.
Here are nine campaign goals Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign announcement video basically spells out for us:
She Wants Us To Let Her Have a Fresh Start
Even bigger than the challenge of distancing herself from President Obama will be distancing herself from herself. Clinton has been on the political scene for a long, long time. The theme of the video — Americans making fresh starts — shows that the former first lady and former secretary of state wants us to think of this as a new chapter for her and hopefully evaluate her solely on the Clinton of today. That is, of course, impossible, but she had to try.
She Wants To Win (Via) The Internet
This message isn't as clear as it would be if Clinton tweeted her announcement, but when you tell the world you're running for president, you probably want to show that you're willing to put more into it than 140 characters. By announcing via a YouTube video, Clinton, star of the "Texts from Hillary" Tumblr that went viral in 2012, reminds us that she gets where most people watch video now (and how she'll reach most younger voters). Of course, the announcement first came in the form of an email to donors, which stole her thunder a little (and reminded us of her email, um, issues), but her eyes are clearly on the web.
Clinton with Adam Smith and Stacy Lambe, creators of Texts from Hillary
She Wants the Parent Vote
Four of the 11 stories included in the video are parenting or kid stories. There's the Latina mom who's moving so that she'll be in a district with a better kindergarten for her kid (ding, ding, ding, EDUCATION!!!). There's the white mom going back to work after staying home with her children for five years. There's the African-American couple expecting a baby boy, and there's the adorable kid looking forward to the school play where he's going to wear a fish costume. Oh, and the guy starting a new career goes to work for a fifth generation company. Family, family, family, family is the message here. And just in case you didn't get that, she says at the end, "When families are strong, American is strong."
The video's focus on parenting probably comes a little bit from the importance of family in Clinton's own life right now — her daughter, Chelsea, gave birth to a daughter in 2014 — but a lot from the desire to soften Clinton's image so that anyone who still regards her as a "feminazi" will now see her firmly as a grandmother with a history of fighting for issues that impact women and children. Clinton began this branding of herself years ago, and becoming a grandmother herself only helped — her Twitter bio begins, "Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate." It's maybe even a little surprising that she doesn't appear with her daughter and granddaughter in the video, but maybe that felt like it was putting too much of the spotlight on her in a video where she's trying to look like she's focused on others (read on). The focus on family in the video is probably also a signal that Clinton will campaign hard for things like paid family leave, although she did say in 2014, "I don’t think, politically, we could get it now." Does she still believe that now?
She Wants Older Americans To See Her As One Of Them
Speaking of Clinton being a grandparent, the video includes two women over fifty, one of whom explicitly talks about retirement. More Americans than ever now are over age 65, and Hillary is 68 herself. It makes sense to identify with that constituency group. Clinton may even be counting on them — as well as her younger Tumblr fangirls and boys — to have her back when critics claim she's over the hill. "Retirement means reinventing yourself in many ways," says one woman in the video. Who are you calling old?
People Without Kids (But With Pets) Are Cool, Too
But if you don't have kids, Clinton is also gunning for your vote. The video features a couple working on a home remodeling project, with lots of focus on their dog and cat. The implication is that if your children are canine or feline, Hillz wants you, too.
She Wants Women To Vote For Her (Obvi)
It's no surprise that Clinton is courting female voters, but she does so in a way that isn't an explicitly feminist rallying cry. Instead, she lets women of various ages speak for themselves (with the exception of the pregnant woman, whose partner does the talking). The inclusion of the mom going back to work after staying home with her kids is especially notable — a sort of apology to the homemakers who've never forgotten or forgiven her remark on Nightline in 1992, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession" that also gestures to her support for working women.
And Let's Not Forget the Gays
The video defines family in traditional terms — monogamous relationships are a central theme — but they aren't all heterosexual relationships. One of the individuals who speaks is a young gay guy who looks forward to his wedding this summer "to someone I really care about." The camera zooms out, and ... it's a dude! A dude is marrying a dude! If you're gay, Hillary Clinton totally supports you getting married. There's also a shot of a smiling lesbian couple at the end.
And The Millennials
The young pregnant woman, the college student applying to her first job, the dude looking forward to his wedding, the couple doing the remodeling, and probably a few of the other stories all point to Hillary having her eye trained on Millennial voters. Considering the role young voters played in Obama's election and reelection, not a bad plan.
She'll Court the Middle Class
What presidential candidate won't? She references "everyday Americans" and hard work, and the video features a pair of Spanish-speaking brothers starting their own business (HI SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS!). It's not a very original approach, but she had to get it in there, especially since, hopefully, she would advance the interests of small business owners and the middle class. It's worth noting that she states, "The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," which will likely provoke commentary on her own wealth.
She Wants Us to Think It's Not About Her
'It's your time," Clinton tells us at the end of the video, knowing all too well how the public responds to her when she seems to be pursuing initiatives to fulfill her personal ambitions — see the flack she received for her 1993 healthcare and for her 2000 Senate race. The whole point of this video, it seems, was to say that Clinton will not be leading with her ego. We don't even see her until a minute and 31 seconds in, and when we first glimpse her, it's in a shot of the back of her head. Then she tells us that she's "getting ready to do something, too." She's just one of us, guys, tending our tomatoes.. Oh, and P.S., "I'm running for president."Look, Clinton is a politician, and this is a presidential campaign announcement — of course it's about her — but she wants voters to think of her primarily as a public servant, the "champion" of "everyday Americans" whose victory would be good for the whole team. Which, incidentally, is exactly the approach women are advised to take when asking for a promotion or a raise.
Images: Texts from Hillary/Tumblr