NEW YORK - Hillary Clinton on Saturday formally launches her bid to become America's first woman president, holding in New York her first big campaign rally and outlining a promise to fight for the middle class.
Thousands of supporters are expected to throng Roosevelt Island, a tiny slither of land in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, where Clinton is expected to be joined by husband Bill and daughter Chelsea in the family's first joint appearance of the campaign.
Her team sees the rally, on home turf in a state where Clinton served as senator for eight years, as a chance to wrest back momentum from flagging opinion polls and galvanize a friendly crowd.
In a campaign video, released on the eve of the rally, Clinton said she was running for president to fight for the middle class and told viewers that she cared about their problems.
"Everyone deserves a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. That's the dream we share. That's the fight we must wage," said the 67-year-old former secretary of state.
"My dad, the son of a factory worker, could start a small business, my mom, who never got to go to college, could see her daughter go to college."
The video looked back on Clinton's four-decade career in public service and sought to counter growing concerns that the grandmother with a millionaire lifestyle is out of touch.
A CNN poll found last week a growing number of Americans say she is not honest and trustworthy (57 per cent, up from 49 per cent in March).
"Everyday Americans and their families need a champion, a champion who will fight for them every single day and I want to be that champion," Hillary said in the video. "I don't quit." Her speech is expected to be a break with the past in being deeply personal, drawing heavily on her mother's disadvantaged background to show that she is motivated by a higher calling than naked ambition.
More Rodham than Clinton
Dorothy Rodham was abandoned as a child by her parents, sent to live with abusive grandparents and left home to work as a housekeeper aged 14 during the Great Depression.
The speech is expected to be more Rodham than Clinton, taking in women's rights, and will likely paint the Republican Party as out of touch with an increasingly diverse electorate.
The rally signals a new stage in her campaign, ushering in a period when she will expound specific policies and address larger crowds after spending weeks holding small meetings in key states.
Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the campaign, told CNN that from now on the focus would be what motivates Clinton and her vision.
"It will be personal, you'll hear her talk a lot about her mother, because her mother's experience really had a strong impact on Hillary at a very young age," she explained.
The island named after America's famed World War II and New Deal president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is also deeply symbolic and offers fabulous views of the United Nations.
She will deliver her speech at Four Freedoms Park, a memorial to Roosevelt which celebrates the freedoms he outlined in 1941: freedom of speech and of worship; freedom from want and from fear.
In April, Clinton defined "four big fights": building the economy, strengthening families and communities, getting unaccountable money out of politics and protecting the country from threats.
Not only is Roosevelt's wife Eleanor a personal hero of Clinton's but in speaking at the memorial, Clinton is "choosing to situate herself in the middle of this enormous legacy," Felicia Wong, the president of the Roosevelt Institute think tank, told AFP.
"I think it shows a lot of vision," she added.