Editor's note: Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, has been in the Senate since 2001. She is chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee and serves on the Energy, Budget and Finance committees. You can follow her on Twitter @stabenow. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
(CNN) -- In 2016, we need to elect a president who has the experience to hit the ground running on day one. We need someone who has walked the walk, not just talked the talk.
We need someone who is extremely competent, extremely intelligent and extremely dedicated to the men, women and children of this country. We need someone who personally knows world leaders and understands the threats and challenges facing America. We need someone who understands what middle-class families have been going through and how to give every family a fair shot to get ahead in life.
Our next president needs to be someone who knows without debate that equal pay for equal work and the full participation of women in our country is not only the right thing for them and their families, it's critical for the economic future of America.
We need President Hillary Clinton.
That's why I am honored to formally announce my renewed and unreserved support for Clinton as she considers a 2016 presidential bid.
I'm ready for Clinton because she is the best person to take on the challenges that face our country, and she has more than enough qualifications, achievements and experience to do the job.
While Clinton and I came to the Senate at the same time after the 2000 elections, I have known her for more than 30 years. I first met Clinton when I was serving in the Michigan State House of Representatives and she was serving as first lady of Arkansas and working as an attorney. We were both speaking on a panel at a national conference on children's issues in Detroit. I had just passed one of the first child abuse prevention trust funds in the country and Clinton was serving on the board of directors of the Children's Defense Fund.
That event was certainly an apt place to meet Clinton. For so many years before that and for the decades since, fighting on behalf of children and families has been a cornerstone of Clinton's career.
I was in the room when then-first lady Clinton courageously spoke in China at the Fourth World Conference on Women and reminded the world that "women's rights are human rights." I will never forget the power of that speech. Shortly thereafter, I was motivated to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Clinton continued to speak up on behalf of women and girls around the world as secretary of state. And since passing the baton at the State Department to Secretary John Kerry, she has once again made the fight for quality, universal early childhood education one of her signatures issues.
The issues that will dominate the 2016 election are issues that Clinton has been a leader on for years. She has been a champion for middle-class families and for those working hard to get into the middle class. She voted time and again to raise the minimum wage so people working full time would not find themselves still in poverty. She wrote the Student Borrower Bill of Rights and fought for lowering student loan rates by ending giveaways to the big banks. And of course she has fought tirelessly to give all Americans, especially children, the security of quality, affordable health care.
As president, Hillary Clinton will fight for our values day in and day out. I also know Clinton is practical and pragmatic. She understands how to get things done.
I saw it in her that day in Detroit so many years ago, watched her help accomplish great things like the Children's Health Insurance Program as first lady, worked with her here in the Senate to increase the minimum wage, and continued to be inspired by the grit, determination and old-fashioned hard work she put in across six continents and 956,733 miles as secretary of state.
As secretary of state, Clinton stood up for America and stood strong against our enemies. As president, she will stand up for all Americans and stand strong against those who want to rig our political system for their own gain.
When America chooses its next president, we need someone who understands that people across this country are working hard and just want a fair shot to get ahead in life. I know that Clinton understands this because that's the America she has been fighting for all her life.
That is why I am ready for Hillary Clinton -- and why America is, too.