Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton embarked on a widely anticipated campaign for the White House on Saturday, a former first lady intent on becoming the first female president. "I'm in and I'm in to win," she said on her Web site.
Clinton's announcement, days after Sen. Barack Obama shook up the contest race with his bid to become the first black president, establishes the most diverse political field ever.
Clinton is considered the front-runner, with Obama and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards top contenders. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who would be the first Hispanic president, intends to announce his plans on Sunday.
"You know after six years of George Bush, it is time to renew the promise of America," Clinton says in a videotaped message in which she invites voters to begin a dialogue with her on the major issues - health care, Social Security and Medicare, and the war in Iraq.
"I'm not just starting a campaign, though, I'm beginning a conversation with you, with America," she said. "Let's talk. Let's chat. The conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don't you think?"
Clinton, who was re-elected to a second term last November, said she will spend the next 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."
She often is compared to her husband and found lacking in his natural charisma. Others have criticized her for being overly cautious and calculating when so many voters say they crave authenticity.
Many Democrats, eager to reclaim the White House after eight years of President Bush, fret that she carries too much baggage from her husband's scandal-plagued presidency to win a general election. Among many voters, she is best known for her disastrous attempt in 1993 to overhaul the nation's health care system and for standing by her husband after his marital infidelity.