Hillary Clinton sets off for tour of key states

Media caption,

Nick Bryant reports on Hillary Clinton's declaration: ''It was low-key, even humble start''

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has set out for a tour of key states, at the start of her campaign to become the first woman US president.

She is taking a road trip to meet small groups of voters in Iowa, having announced her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday.

She had been expected to declare her candidacy for months.

Mrs Clinton ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 but lost to Barack Obama.

'Listening tour'

A few hours into her journey from New York to Iowa, Mrs Clinton tweeted: "Road trip! Loaded the van & set off for IA. Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come. -H."

Image source, Twitter
Image caption,
Mrs Clinton tweeted on her way to Iowa

Mrs Clinton's team said she would spend the next few weeks building up grassroots support in the early Democratic primary states.

Her first rally, to officially kick off her campaign, is not expected until mid-May. But her trip to Iowa is to be a "listening tour" where Mrs Clinton will meet voters at low-key events.

Later this week, she is expected to meet groups of students, teachers and small business owners.

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How it all started for Hillary Clinton

On Sunday, Mrs Clinton launched her campaign website and declared in a video that she was running for president.

"Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times," she said, "but the deck is still stacked in favour of those at the top."

She added that she wanted to be a champion for "everyday Americans".

The video features a number of Americans talking about their hopes and aspirations.

Analysis: Gary O'Donoghue, BBC News, Des Moines, Iowa

The launch of Hillary Clinton's campaign for the presidency was meant to be low-key. It was meant to reflect the idea that it was all about ordinary Americans and the everyday concerns of the middle class.

But whether she likes it or not, Mrs Clinton is a huge name in politics and reinventing herself as the embodiment of change won't be easy.

True, she is unlikely to face any stiff competition from her own side for the nomination, but Republicans have been unrelenting in their attacks on her and that will only increase.

She will also have to find a convincing vision for America that will capture the imagination of the voters. Elections are usually about the future and Mrs Clinton has to prove that she's not all about the past.

Mrs Clinton, 67, has already had the backing of Mr Obama, who said on Saturday that she would make an "excellent president".

But the attacks from Republicans have already started.

Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and brother of George W Bush who expected to stand as a Republican candidate, said in his own online video on Sunday that America "must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies".

Another Republican presidential contender. Rand Paul, also criticised Mrs Clinton for her handling of a September 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which the US ambassador was among those killed.

He also said questions remained about funds received by the Clinton Foundation, a charity set up by Mr and Mrs Clinton.

The organisation has come under attack from Republicans for accepting donations from foreign governments.

The Clinton Foundation told the BBC that Mrs Clinton has stepped down from the board of directors, and that the foundation is reviewing its donor policy.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Marco Rubio is expected to announce his candidacy for his party's nomination at an event in Miami later on Monday.