Hillary Clinton on Saturday launched her bid to become the first woman president of the United States, promising the struggling middle classes renewed prosperity at the first big rally of her campaign.
She chose home turf in New York, an overwhelming fan base where she served as senator for eight years, to deliver a deeply personal speech outlining why she was running and to unveil progressive policies.
Several thousand of her most devoted admirers braved scorching heat and a strict security cordon to pack a relatively small venue at a memorial to famed World War II and New Deal president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"I may not be the youngest candidate in this race. But I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States," she said to cheers and applause. "And the first grandmother as well!"
She was joined on stage by husband and former president Bill, their daughter Chelsea and their son-in-law Marc Mezvinsky, embracing, holding hands and waving to a rapturous sea of waving flags.
With chants of "Hillary" and whoops of delight it was a festival of wholesome middle-class America, decked with red, white and blue flags, bordered by leafy trees and overlooked by the skyscrapers of New York.
She drew on the disadvantaged background of her mother, who was forced to work as a maid aged 14 after being abandoned, to tell voters that she understood first hand their problems.
"My mother taught me that everybody needs chance and a champion. She knew what it was like not to have either one," Clinton said.
"That\’s why I believe with all my heart in America and in the potential of every American to meet every challenge, to be resilient no matter what the world throws at you, to solve the toughest problems."
She sought to present herself as warm, caring and relaxed, and the most qualified candidate, with the domestic, security, intellectual and foreign policy credentials that made her the best candidate for the job.
Her arrival was preceded by blasts of pop music, an African American drumming band from Brooklyn and rock group Echosmith, who were tasked with whipping up the crowd.
Student Cristina Greenfield, 18, who will vote in 2016 for the first time, dismissed concerns that Clinton is old and an out-of-touch.
"I\’m a big fan of her, what she stands for. She has a big leg up on the other candidates," said Greenfield.
Her political foes paint Clinton as out of touch and not trustworthy.
They have pilloried her charitable work with the Clinton Foundation, paid speeches, private email accounts and her record as secretary of state.
A CNN poll found last week a growing number of Americans say she is not honest and trustworthy (57 percent, up from 49 percent in March).
In her speech, she launched a stinging attack on the Republican party, painting her conservative foes as out of touch and lampooned their tax breaks in favor of the super wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
The 67-year-old former first lady and secretary of state promised tax relief to small business owners, to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.
She vowed to make preschool and quality child care available to every child, make college more affordable by lifting "the crushing burden" of debt, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage and an end to discrimination against the LGBT community.
Clinton promised to maintain America\’s global leadership, to counter threats posed by Russia, North Korea and Iran, cyber attacks and by the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and Iraq.
"America can\’t succeed unless you succeed, that is why I am running for president of the United States," she said. "Prosperity just can\’t be for CEOs and hedge fund managers. Democracy can\’t be just for billionaires."
Friends and staff have long described Clinton as warm and fun, and are working to soften her sometimes frosty public image, which helped cost her the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama for the 2008 election.
She cracked jokes in an effort to present a more human touch and presented herself as the natural ally of Roosevelt, her husband and Barack Obama.
"I\’ve been called many things by many people," she said to laughter.
"Quitter is not one of them."