Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman and whistleblower convicted of leaking thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, has released the first campaign advertisement for her bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland.
On Saturday, reports of Manning's potential Senate run circulated after she filed proper paperwork in Maryland, which she later confirmed on Sunday on Twitter. Along with her announcement she also tweeted a video of her first campaign ad in which she demanded, "we need someone willing to fight."
The ad opened with visuals of recent violent protests, clashes with police and the rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, Manning narrated, "We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, hate."
She added, "We don’t need more or better leaders, we need someone willing to fight."
"We need to stop asking them to give us our rights, they won't support us, they won't compromise," Manning continued. The ad included video footage of Democratic leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, meeting with President Donald Trump.
"We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves," Manning narrated. "We need to actually take the reins of power from them."
She closed, "We need to challenge this at every level. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore, we can do better. "You’re damn right we got this."
Manning, who had her 35-year prison sentenced commuted by former President Barack Obama in the final months of his presidency, has long been a controversial figure in politics and the media. She's been an unapologetic advocate for privacy, human rights and greater government transparency. She was recently invited, along with former press secretary Sean Spicer, as a visiting fellow at Harvard University. However her invitation was rescinded following outrage from some, including former members of intelligence agencies. Spicer still participated in several talks, and was accused of openly lying, as Salon has previously reported.
Pundits, journalists and regular Twitter users had largely positive reactions, but many conservatives were also quick to criticize Manning's decision to run.