After years of internal debate and a few false starts, Hillary Clinton ended the speculation Sunday afternoon, declaring that she would launch a second campaign to become America's first female president.
At 2:52 p.m. EDT, the Associated Press confirmed the long-awaited decision. Minutes later, Clinton's site was live and her first campaign video was making the rounds. The clip, which clocks in at just 138 seconds, shows very little of the candidate and whole lot of the people Clinton is hoping will back her bid and vote for her on Election Day 2016.
In an era when even the smallest gesture — a crooked smile or sideways glance — can launch a news cycle and a thousand rounds of deep analysis, nothing in a video like this happens by accident. Everyone and everything you see is there for a reason.
Here are the characters we meet in Clinton 2016's debut ad. Each fits a certain archetype whose support Clinton will be eager to earn:
The friendly, dancing middle-aged Midwestern white woman:
The young mom doing her best to get her young daughter a better education:
The Spanish-speaking brothers who are starting their first business together:
The mom getting ready to go back to work after years spent raising her young kids:
A young black married couple expecting their first child:
A student looking for a jobs, perhaps to begin paying off that college debt:
A gay couple getting ready to be married:
A woman nearing retirement age, ready to "reinvent" herself:
An interracial married couple with a cat and whole lot of excitement about what's to come:
A white guy who is super proud to be working in some kind of family-owned factory or industrial shop:
And Clinton — ready to be a "champion" for all of them:
There's nothing unique or particularly cynical in a political ad targeting certain select portions of the broader population. But just as Clinton is seeking to project her intentions and values to voters, a video like this, with such a diverse cast of characters, gives us a rare opportunity to analyze who it is the candidate believes she needs to convince. (Most of them, at least. Absent from the clip are any apparent mentions of union members or her backers in the financial services industry.)
The middle-aged white woman tending her small garden is Julie Stauch, an contract consultant working with nonprofit groups, according to the Des Moines Register. The happy young couple with the cat is identified by the Register as Sean Bagniewski and wife Vidhya Reddy. The common thread running through all the featured stories is a relentless belief in American "middle class" values. Each archetype expresses elements of social and economic aspiration, anxiety over an unstable economy and, despite all the countervailing evidence, a winning optimism about the days to come.
One couple, the gay men getting ready for their summer wedding, even sent a message to Clinton after seeing a bit of their story woven into Clinton's pitch: