NEW YORK - Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally launched her second presidential bid Sunday, vowing to be the champion for “everyday” American families and to strengthen the economy.

“I’m running for president,” Mrs Clinton said in a video posted on her website, hillaryclinton.com.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favour of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by. You can get ahead and stay ahead. Because when families are strong, America is strong.”

“So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it’s your time and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”

The long-awaited announcement was preceded by an email from campaign chairman John Podesta to supporters, which was first reported by the Associated Press, the American news agency. Podesta says Clinton will first head to Iowa to talk to voters. She’ll hold a formal campaign kickoff next month, according to the email.

The approach is part of a different strategy Clinton is taking from her 2008 campaign, which will focus on convincing voters through small-group settings that she has ideas for helping the middle class and the skills to govern.

Clinton’s declaration that she’s in the race ends two years of less-than-subtle preparation: giving speeches, promoting the causes of the Clinton family’s charitable foundation, and assembling a staff for the 2016 race. In Clinton’s previous bid for the White House in 2008, the former secretary of state lost to incumbent Barack Obama in the heated democratic primary race.  Obama told reporters Saturday that Clinton would make “an excellent president.”

“She was a formidable candidate in 2008. She was a great supporter of mine in the general election. She was an outstanding secretary of state. She is my friend,” Obama said at a regional summit in Panama. “I think she would be an excellent president.”

Clinton, widely seen as the frontrunner for the Democrats’ nomination, is the party’s first member to declare candidacy for the 2016 election. The long-awaited announcement comes after two years of speculation about a possible second bid.

Meanwhile, past scandals are likely to surround Clinton’s campaign. Last month, the erstwhile senator and first lady was embroiled in a controversy surrounding her use of a private — rather than government-issued — email account during her time at the State Department.  Clinton’s time as Secretary of State was also marred by the Benghazi terrorist attacks in 2012 which left four Americans dead at the US compound. Clinton stands accused of not having done enough to protect US staff.

Reuters adds: Many Democrats have been waiting for Clinton to get back into the White House fight since the day in June 2008 when she pulled out of her primary battle against Obama with an expression of regret that she could not crack “that highest and hardest glass ceiling this time.”

But Clinton still has to convince some liberals that she is the best candidate to tackle issues like income inequality and the power of Wall Street banks. Some liberal groups are pushing Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has vocally criticized some Wall Street practices, to challenge Clinton.

Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, the largest US federation of labor unions, praised Clinton’s public service record and said he hoped her candidacy would elevate the “critical debate” in the country over how to raise wages.

The Clinton campaign’s finance chair, Dennis Cheng, emailed donors and bundlers on Sunday telling them to expect an email message from Clinton herself, one donor said. Cheng’s email, according to the donor, said Clinton would be explaining her vision for the campaign and her presidency.

Marc Stanley, a Dallas lawyer and a prominent Democratic fundraiser, said he and a colleague planned to send “several hundred” messages to donors on Sunday asking them to support Clinton.