After grilling steaks with her husband, former President Bill
Clinton, Hillary Clinton delivered a populist speech to the crowd of
more than 6,000 Democrats at a vast green field a few miles outside
of Des Moines. She defended President Barack Obama's signature
healthcare initiative known as Obamacare, pushed legislation on a
minimum wage and lambasted Republicans as "guardians of gridlock."
Clinton focused much of her speech on promoting Iowa's Democratic
candidates, including Senate hopeful Bruce Braley, who is vying in a
closely watched race in the 2014 midterm elections on Nov. 4.
But she was coy as she parried questions about her intentions in
"Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns," she
said. "Look, I get excited about presidential campaigns."
“We’re just here to support Democrats,” Clinton added.
Still, 2016 was in the air, particularly when Iowa Senator Tom
Harkin, the host of the steak fry, referred to Clinton and her
husband as "the comeback couple" and said "there are many more
chapters that will be written in the amazing life of Hillary
It was a reference to the nickname "comeback kid" used by the media
to describe Bill Clinton's rebound in his 1992 campaign from early
In 2008, Hillary suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Iowa caucus,
coming in third behind Barack Obama, who went on to win the
presidency, and John Edwards.
Sunday was Clinton's first time back in the state since her defeat.
"It's really great to be back," she said. "Let's not let another
seven years go by."
Clinton, whom many Democrats consider the frontrunner for the 2016
race, made a series of missteps this summer while promoting her
memoir. Clinton said she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left
the White House, a comment that was roundly criticized as suggesting
she was out of touch with everyday voters.
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After a summer spent promoting her memoir across the world and
relaxing in New York's tony Hamptons, the steak fry event marked the
kickoff to a series of events in which she will campaign and raise
money for fellow Democrats for the 2014 midterms. While Bill Clinton
has campaigned for candidates this year, Hillary has stayed out of
the fray up until now.
For decades, retiring Senator Harkin's steak fry has provided a
platform for Democratic presidential hopefuls to introduce
themselves to Iowans, including Obama, who attended the event in
Presidential candidates lavish attention on Iowa because of the
importance of its nominating contest that comes at the beginning of
the electoral calendar.
Many potential Republican contenders, including Kentucky Senator
Rand Paul, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz,
have already visited the state, and possible Clinton rival Maryland
Governor Martin O'Malley swung by earlier in September.
Vice President Joe Biden, who has also hinted at a White House bid,
plans to visit Des Moines on Wednesday. Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who is considering
challenging Clinton from the left, stopped by the state on Saturday.
(Editing by Caren Bohan and Eric Walsh)
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