(AA) – Since losing her party’s nomination to eventual President Barack Obama, political heavyweight Hillary Clinton has gone from senior U.S. official to a target of Republican ire, only to return as candidate for the Democratic ticket.
Clinton, 67, announced her bid Sunday with a video message posted to YouTube. In it she bills herself as a populist champion in touch with everyday Americans.
“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” she says. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”
With a dearth of fellow Democrats emerging for the nomination, Clinton is joined by three Republicans in the race for America’s top office – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
If she manages to win her party’s nomination and defeat her Republican opponent – whomever that may be – Clinton will become the first woman to helm the executive branch of the U.S. government.
Obama has been quick to praise his former rival, saying the day prior to her announcement that she would make an “excellent president.”
Born on Oct. 26, 1947 in Chicago, Clinton graduated from Yale Law School in 1973 after attending Wellesley College in Massachusetts. During her time at Yale and Wellesley, Clinton was a politically active student, and worked on a Connecticut senate campaign while at Yale.
She married Bill Clinton two years after graduating from Yale in 1975, and served as first lady from 1993 to 2001. Following her time in the White House, Clinton went on to hold a Senate seat for the state of New York from 2001 to 2009.
Known for her political savvy, the former first lady was dealt a crushing electoral blow in 2008 when Obama outpoliticked her to become the Democratic nominee for president. At the time she could have returned to her Senate seat, which she held since 2001, but an offer from Obama led her to accept America’s top diplomatic post.
As Obama’s Secretary of State from 2009-2013, Clinton was known for her unrelenting pursuit of American foreign policy, cataloguing 401 days of foreign travel in which she flew 956,733 miles (1,539,712 kilometers) to visit 112 countries.
To put that in perspective, Clinton’s diplomatic efforts could have taken her around the globe 38 times.
During her time in office, the U.S. ended its war in Iraq, international borders were redrawn in East Africa resulting in the formation of the world’s youngest country, and long-time autocrats were toppled in the north of the continent.
Through it all, Clinton played a critical role in guiding American affairs abroad.
But it is that record that her opponents, particularly Republican lawmakers, have pounced on to undercut the Democratic candidate.
Most recently, it was revealed that Clinton conducted official business on a personal e-mail account and private server despite federal regulations prohibiting such practices.
Clinton dragged on responding to the revelations, prompting critics to further question her integrity in office. And she has refused to hand over her personal email server to a third party for investigation, despite a congressional subpoena to do so.
While Republicans continue to sound the alarm over her emails, they have also adamantly maintained her responsibility for the deaths of four Americans, including ambassador Christopher Stevens, at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
An independent review of the incident found “Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department,” which, “resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”
Clinton stepped down from office shortly after giving congressional testimony on the incident in 2013.
She will have another chance to defend her record in the coming weeks during hotly anticipated congressional testimony in which she is widely expected to face pointed criticism from lawmakers.
That will be a crucial test for the would-be Democratic nominee.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear how Clinton will navigate some of Obama’s more controversial diplomatic efforts since she left office, particularly the president’s detente with longtime rival Cuba, and the administration’s ongoing effort to broker a nuclear deal with Iran.