Clinton hits the trail on battle bus 'Scooby'
Published 14/04/2015 | 02:30
She's hit the trail running.
Within hours of declaring her White House run, Hillary Clinton popped up in Pennsylvania - and on social media - with a warning of what is to come.
She had said that she was en route to Iowa, and that her diary was cleared until today, but up she popped all the same on her campaign bus called 'Scooby'. She's plunging headlong into the battleground state, where she was famously pipped by Barack Obama in 2008 - a portent of things to come.
Along the way she stopped off to speak to people, relentlessly peppering Twitter with posts.
"Road trip! Loaded the van & set off for IA," she tweeted. "Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come. -H."
There's bound to be plenty more of this sort of stuff, as she tries to shed her stuffy image which has dogged her, placing her as detached and aloof from ordinary Americans.
Ms Clinton is determined to reach out to voters and make an effort to talk to them on their terms.
"I'm hitting the road to earn your vote," Ms Clinton said in the video released to officially launch her campaign. "And I hope you'll join me on this journey."
Her intentions may be genuine, but a problem for Ms Clinton will be that the media - watching her every second and listening to every soundbite - will assume that every interaction she makes is planned and stage-managed.
Reports said that Ms Clinton had not intended to make her bus trip to Iowa public until someone spotted her and her Secret Service driver at a petrol station and telephoned CNN, but will people believe such a claim?
US reports say that Ms Clinton's campaign team will spend the next six to eight weeks in a "ramp-up" period, and will not hold her first rally and deliver a campaign kick-off speech until May.
Her two-day visit to Iowa today and tomorrow will see her visit a community college and a family-owned fruit business, where she will sit in on round-table discussions.
Another candidate entered the field yesterday, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio. He wasted no time in taking aim at Ms Clinton, saying the former first lady, senator and secretary of state was "a leader from yesterday who wants to take us back to yesterday".
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, another declared Republican candidate, weighed into Ms Clinton in his attack ad, titled 'Liberty, not Hillary'.
Some Republicans sought to make foreign policy an issue at a time when the Obama administration is negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran and moving to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
"We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies," said former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in his own online video. Mr Bush, the brother and son of former presidents, is widely expected to join the crowded Republican race for the nomination.
Republicans have also seized on Ms Clinton's use of a personal rather than a government email account and a server located in her home while she was secretary of state. They have also raised questions about donations from foreign governments to the Clinton family's foundation.
The road trip was Ms Clinton's idea, aides said.
"When Hillary first told us that she was ready to hit the road for Iowa, we literally looked at her and said, 'Seriously?' And she said, 'Seriously,'" said long-time aide Huma Abedin. A Clinton aide said the van is nicknamed "Scooby" after the van in the 1970s animated television show.
Her staff say she intends to cast herself as a "tenacious fighter" determined to block the growing power of an increasingly right-wing Republican Party that has sought to block Mr Obama's agenda and now controls both chambers of Congress.
Meanwhile, the former Maryland governor, Irish-American Martin O'Malley, will announce his own presidential bid in May, insiders believe.
O'Malley has long links with the Clintons and was with them in 1995 on a trip to Northern Ireland, President Bill Clinton's first visit there.