Clinton: I'm in this to win

Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed confidence in her presidential prospects yesterday and said she awaits a spirited contest for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a great contest with a lot of talented people and I’m very confident.

“I’m in. I’m in it to win and that’s what I intend to do,” she said after her first public appearance since announcing her candidacy on Saturday.

The New York senator said she decided to run after talking to family, friends and supporters since her re-election in November.

“It was a thorough review for me about the problems we confront in the country, the particular strengths and talents I would bring, both to the race and the White House,” Clinton said.

“I concluded, based on the work of my life time and my experience and my understanding of what our country has to confront in order to continue to make opportunity available to all of our citizens here and to restore our leadership and respect of America around the world, that I would be able to do that, to bring our country together to meet those tough challenges,” she said.

The former first lady answered questions after promoting legislation that she said would improve healthcare for children.

“In the richest of all countries we have both the obligation, and now the opportunity, to make sure no child does go without health insurance,” Clinton said at a community health centre in New York.

“It’s simply wrong for any child to lack healthcare in America. That’s where we start,” she said.

Earlier, one of her White House rivals said Clinton is the favourite right now for the Democratic nomination, but the party is a “lifetime” away from making its 2008 choice.

“I think she’s incredibly formidable and has got to be the front-runner and the odds-on pick right now.

"But this is a marathon. There’s a long way to go,” said Senator Joe Biden.

The former first lady and current New York senator joined the race hoping to become the first female president.

A crowded field of Democratic candidates is led by Clinton, Illinois Senator Barack Obama and 2004 vice-presidential nominee John Edwards. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson jumped in today.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released today showed that Clinton was the favourite of 41% of Democrats, more than double the support of any of her rivals.

Biden, however, said he did not look at the race as Clinton’s to lose.

“Look, listen, we’re a lifetime away. Hillary Clinton is going to have to make her best case and there’s a lot of us out there that are known but in a sense not known and we’re going to make our best case and I don’t think Hillary’s best case versus mine or Barack’s or anybody else’s necessarily trumps us,” said Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Clinton made her announcement on a video posted on her website. Obama said last week he was setting up a committee to raise money and gauge support for a run.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is considering a 2008 bid, said he thought Obama “forced Senator Clinton’s hand by weeks. I mean, he has gained ground so rapidly that I think she sort of thought she had to remind her friends she was around.”

Gingrich said Clinton “can raise far more resources than any other Democrat, probably raise more resources than all the other Democrats combined and you’d have to say, given those assets, that she has a six-out-of-10 chance or better of being the Democratic nominee”.

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