Within minutes of Hillary Clinton’s announcement Sunday that she will seek the 2016 Democratic nomination for U.S. president, her already-declared Republican rivals pounced. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky tweeted their attacks on Clinton to their hundreds of thousands of followers. Reaction also poured in from the Democratic and GOP political establishment, which had anticipated Clinton’s announcement for days before her top aide broke the news Sunday afternoon.
“We’re ready for Hillary,” Cruz said in a video tweeted on his official Twitter account. “We know exactly what to expect. Hillary Clinton represents the failed policies of the past. Does America want a third Obama term? Or are we ready for strong conservative leadership to make America great again?”
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 12, 2015
Cruz, who officially launched his White House bid nearly three week ago, also asked for campaign donations. Paul tweeted an animated image that plays up the former secretary of state’s email scandal. The words “Liberty, not Hillary” are revealed at the end of the animation. To the same effect, Paul also released a video attack ad that includes snippets from his official launch last week.
Other likely Republican and Democratic contenders quickly released statements on Clinton’s announcement. In an email to his supporters, Jeb Bush wrote it ”isn’t going to be easy” to defeat Clinton. Bush, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy, asked for donations to the Right to Rise PAC. “This is going to be a long fight, but together, we will stop her,” Bush wrote. “Thank you for your help, you’ll be hearing from me again soon.” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida did not release a statement Sunday, but was expected to announce his candidacy Monday.
Calling her an “experienced and well-qualified leader,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., said the Democratic Party’s candidate should focus on the nation’s growing economic disparities. “During [her] campaign, it is imperative that Secretary Clinton, like every other candidate, address the great challenges of our time: the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that is crushing our middle class,” Sanders said in a statement tweeted to 281,000 Twitter followers.
An aide to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a likely 2016 Democratic nomination contender, released a statement that did not mention Clinton by name. “All across the nation, [O’Malley has] heard from Democrats that they are looking for someone who offers strong progressive values, new leadership, and the experience of getting real results,” read the statement released by Lis Smith. “The Democratic Party will benefit from a robust issues debate, and -- should Governor O'Malley decide to enter the race -- he will bring one.”
The chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties also reacted to Clinton's announcement. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz welcomed the former New York senator and first lady to the race, calling her a “forceful advocate” for the country. “I look forward to the contributions that Secretary Clinton, and all of our eventual candidates, will bring to this debate between two very different visions for the country,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, in a statement, said voters lack trust in Clinton because of the baggage she carries from her time as secretary of state. “Over decades as a Washington insider, Clinton has left a trail of secrecy, scandal and failed policies that can’t be erased from voters’ minds,” Priebus said. “Republicans have a strong and diverse set of candidates who will engage in a productive debate on how to move our country forward.”
Individual reaction also came from prominent members of each party. Former Republican presidential nominee and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, in a statement released by his PAC, Patriot Voice, attacked Clinton’s ties to elite and corporate interests. “I believe we need a president who stands up for the 75 percent of Americans who will never earn a college degree, not the government bureaucrats who are dictating policy from Washington, D.C. offices,” Santorum said in the statement. "I know Hillary Clinton. I served with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton does not have the right vision to lead America."
Carly Fiorina, the business executive and Republican reportedly considering a run for president, criticized Clinton’s record as the country’s top diplomat as one that strained foreign relations. “Hillary Clinton is a highly intelligent woman, she’s hardworking, and she’s dedicated her life to public service,” Fiorina said. “But unfortunately she does not have track record of accomplishment. … After the famous reset with Russia, Russia is now a more powerful adversary than it was when she became Secretary of State.”
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, who defeated Fiorina in a Senate race in 2010, said she planned to help Clinton “make history” by becoming the first woman to be commander-in-chief. “Despite the unprecedented negativity being aimed at her, I am confident that the American people will recognize that Hillary is just the kind of strong and caring leader we need in these times,” Boxer said in a statement.
On Sunday afternoon, #WhyImNotVotingForHillary was trending topic on Twitter.