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Presidential Announcements Offer Insight Into How Candidates Run


Hillary Clinton formally announced her run for the White House today online.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Right now, I'm applying for jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I started a new career recently. This is a fifth-generation company, which means a lot to me.

HILLARY CLINTON: I'm getting ready to do something, too. I'm running for president.

RATH: These announcements are, of course, carefully choreographed - the words, the music, place, even the camera angles all chosen to tell a story about the candidate and his or her values. NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro joins us to talk about some of those stories. Domenico, we all knew it was coming, but what does the way Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy tell us about how she's going to run?

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Well, it really shows that she wants to take nothing for granted. He makes an economic pitch in there, saying that the deck is stacked against those who are not at the stop - reflects, really, how the party, on economics, has shifted more to the left in the vein of Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts. You know, tactically, launching this way, with a video - it's not really unlike what she did in 2007. Of course, she ran into Barack Obama, who did things a little bit differently. And let's take a listen to how he announced back then in Springfield, Ill., on the steps of the state capitol.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And that is why, in the shadow of the old state capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.

MONTANARO: Of course, that's soaring and aspirational, in front of thousands of people. That's not what Clinton's doing. In fact, last time when Clinton did this, as the campaign wore on, they felt a lot of pressure to match crowd size. They were really never really able to do that. And this time, without someone like that chasing her, she feels like she can do it her way, with small groups and not soaring speeches like that.

RATH: OK, so you can go big like Obama or small like Hillary, but sometimes candidates also try to pitch themselves to a place - some place that feels like home.

MONTANARO: Yeah, that's right. I mean, think about Mitt Romney and what he did in 2007. He did it at a speech at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.


MITT ROMNEY: Now, Michigan is, of course, the place where Ann and I were born, and it's a place where we fell in love. Well, we still love each other, and we love Michigan.


MONTANARO: Michigan and the Ford Museum certainly made a lot of sense for Romney. His father ran unsuccessfully for president in 1968. He was governor of Michigan. He also ran an auto company. It was also a swing state, and like he said in 2012, the trees were the right height, of course.

RATH: But, you know, while Romney got the nomination, in the end he lost Michigan in his run against President Obama 2012, right?

MONTANARO: Yeah, it didn't exactly help him there. And I think part of that is because he struggled so much to connect with voters, and part of that was because people really never got a real sense of who he was or where he was from. This is a guy who may have been born in Michigan, but he was governor of Massachusetts, had a home in Utah, and he lives in San Diego.

RATH: OK, so place is important. Recently, Senator Ted Cruz announced his run at Liberty University. That's an evangelical college in Virginia. Let's take a listen.


TED CRUZ: Roughly half of born-again Christians aren't voting. They're staying home. Imagine, instead, millions of people of faith, all across America, coming out to the polls and voting our values.


RATH: Domenico, Ted Cruz lives in Texas, not Virginia. He didn't go to Liberty University, either. So why did he choose to announce there?

MONTANARO: Well, of course, you know, this is an instance of a candidate really trying to pick a place that shows who he's trying to appeal to, and that's social conservatives. Evangelicals are key in early Republican nominating states. Sixty percent or so of Republicans in Iowa or South Carolina are white, evangelical, born-again Christians, so that's what that's all about.

RATH: NPR's Domenico Montanaro, thanks very much.

MONTANARO: It was my pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.