It's what we've been expecting, but not necessarily what we've been expecting on a Saturday morning: Hillary Clinton has just announced that's she's forming an exploratory committee for a White House run. And unlike Barack Obama, who suggested this week that forming an exploratory committee was only a step in his decision-making process, Clinton seems to be committing fully to a presidential campaign already.
"I'm in. And I'm in to win," she said in a videotaped statement on her Web site earlier today.
"As a senator, I will spend two years doing everything in my power to limit the damage George W. Bush can do. But only a new president will be able to undo Bush's mistakes and restore our hope and optimism," Clinton said in a longer, written version of her announcement. "Only a new president can renew the promise of America -- the idea that if you work hard you can count on the health care, education, and retirement security that you need to raise your family. These are the basic values of America that are under attack from this administration every day. And only a new president can regain America's position as a respected leader in the world."
Obama mentioned the war in Iraq only briefly in his statement earlier this week, and Clinton followed suit. That said, their remarks about the war were starkly different. Listing off the decisions that "have put our country in a precarious place," Obama said: "We're still mired in a tragic and costly war that should have never been waged." Clinton, who voted to authorize that war, said in her written statement that how "we bring the war in Iraq to the right end" will be one of the "very big questions in the 2008 election."
Neither Clinton nor Obama offered solutions for Iraq in their statements; both said they've got a lot of listening to do in the weeks ahead. Obama said he's "going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together" before making a further announcement on Feb. 10. Clinton said that she's going to begin a series of Web chats starting Monday night.
"You know after six years of George W. Bush, it is time to renew the promise of America," Clinton said. "I'm not just starting a campaign, though, I'm beginning a conversation with you, with America. Let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mind. Because the conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don't you think? And we can all see how well that works."
In a statement of his own today, Obama called Clinton a "good friend and a colleague whom I greatly respect. I welcome her and all the candidates, not as competitors, but as allies in the work of getting our country back on track."