World

Hillary Clinton touts prosperity for all at 1st major campaign rally in bid for White House

​Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton promised on Saturday to fight for ordinary Americans who have been left behind as the economy recovers, appealing to working families at the first major rally of her 2016 White House campaign.

Democratic frontrunner's family and supporters gather on New York's Roosevelt Island

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate promises to 'make the economy work for everyday Americans, not just those at the top' if elected president 2:31

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton promised on Saturday to fight for ordinary Americans who have been left behind as the economy recovers, appealing to working families at the first major rally of her 2016 White House campaign.

Speaking on New York's Roosevelt Island, within sight of Manhattan's skyscrapers, Clinton promised she would "make the economy work for everyday Americans, not just those at the top" if elected president.

The gathering of several thousand people cheered as Clinton said working people are asking why wealth is reserved for chief executives and hedge fund managers.

"You have to wonder, when does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead? When? I say now," she said.

Rally was biggest campaign event yet

The big outdoor rally marked a change in gear for Clinton. The former secretary of state, who launched her election campaign in low-key fashion in April, has so far held small events with selected participants. Her focus has been on states such as Iowa that hold early contests in the party process of picking a candidate for the November 2016 election.

I have been called many things by many people. Quitter is not one of them.- Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate

Clinton, who is running to be America's first woman president, trumpeted her record on women's rights and talked about the tough upbringing of her mother, Dorothy Rodham, from whom, she said, she got her fighting spirit. 

"I have been called many things by many people. Quitter is not one of them," she told the crowd.

Clinton said she would confide in her mother after hard days in the Senate and at the State Department.

"I wish my mother could have been with us longer," she said. "I wish she could have seen the America we are going to build together. ... where we don't leave any one out or any one behind."

She named President Barack Obama and former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton, her husband, and Franklin D. Roosevelt as examples of the kind of leader she admires. But she also stressed the historic significance of her presidential run.

"I may not be the youngest candidate, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States," said Clinton, 67.

The rally was the first time that Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea, appeared at one of her campaign events.

Opponent Sanders gaining

Clinton, a former New York senator, has started the race with huge name recognition. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and former Democratic Maryland governor Martin O'Malley are challenging her from the left for the nomination as party candidate.

Although Clinton is well ahead of the pair in polls, Sanders appears to be gaining traction in Iowa. He has called on Clinton to say clearly whether she supports Obama's plans for a free trade deal with Asia.

Trade is a divisive issue for Democrats, and members of the president's party rebelled at a vote in the House of Representatives on Friday, impeding passage of a measure to give Obama fast-track authority to reach the Asia trade deal.

Clinton avoided the controversy on Saturday but did address concerns about trade.

"For decades, Americans have been buffeted by powerful currents," she said. "Advances in technology and the rise of global trade have created whole new areas of economic activity and opened new markets for our exports but they have also displaced jobs and undercut wages for millions of Americans."

The Republican nominating battle is off to a crowded start, with 10 candidates who have formally declared they are running and several others likely to launch White House bids. They include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is set to jump into the race on Monday.

With files from CBC News

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