"We can't take anything for granted, and we're going to have to fight really hard for every single vote. ... We fully expect this to be a competitive primary," said Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager.
Clinton announced her 2016 presidential bid Sunday using a low-key approach that contrasted with the big rallies of the Republican entrants so far, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
She made her long-anticipated bid official with a tweet and video message Sunday afternoon.
The video featured a diverse group of actual voters -- rather than actors -- and underscored the theme of economic fairness that is expected to be a cornerstone of her campaign.
“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," Clinton said in the video. "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. So you can do more than just get by -- you can get ahead and stay ahead, because when families are strong, America is strong.”
Mook underscored that message on Sunday's call.
"Hillary was really clear with us that a core purpose of the campaign and the organization supporting the campaign needs to be creating a better economic future for everyday Americans, making the middle class mean something again for people to get ahead and stay ahead, where they can have economic security," he said.
He added that the election is going to be a "fundamental choice" between "going back to a set of policies that crash the economy, got us into this mess and really robbed the middle class and everyday Americans of their economic security, versus a path forward where we tip the playing field back toward the middle class so that they can have opportunities and a chance, as I said, to get ahead and stay ahead."
Alumni learned of the call and Clinton's announcement in a Sunday afternoon email from John Podesta, the campaign chairman.
The 2016 approach differed from Clinton's entrance into the 2008 presidential race as well. In 2008, Clinton also released a video announcement, although it featured her alone, speaking to the camera for approximately two minutes.
Instead of following up this year's announcement with a big rally, Clinton will be holding a series of small, intimate events with voters modeled after the successful "listening tour" she conducted when she ran for U.S. Senate in New York in 2000.
"We're calling this the ramp-up phase," said Marlon Marshall, who is handling the campaign's state work, on Sunday's call. "It's a very similar operation to an exploratory committee, but we're not going to be coy. She's running for president."
He added that next month, there will be a larger kickoff event.
Clinton's first stops will be in Iowa, where she stumbled in the 2008 caucuses. Her longtime aide Huma Abedin said Sunday night that they were on their way to the state at that moment.
"When Hillary first told us that she was ready to hit the road for Iowa, we literally looked at her and said, 'Seriously?' And she said, 'Seriously.' This was her idea, and she's been really excited about it since she came up with it," said Abedin.
"We've been driving for a good part of today and had actually an interesting stop at a gas station in Pennsylvania. I think it's safe to say she surprised quite a few people who had just happened to stop for gas at the same time she did. We met a wonderful family from Michigan," she added.
Road trip! Loaded the van & set off for IA. Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come. -H http://pic.twitter.com/5Va7zeR8RP
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 13, 2015
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