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Clinton Embraces Return to Iowa        09/15 06:12

   INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton's third-place finish in the 
2008 Iowa caucuses seemed but a fading memory when the former secretary of 
state took the stage in front of roughly 10,000 loyal Democrats at outgoing 
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual fall fundraiser south of Des Moines.

   Though Clinton is the favorite for the 2016 Democratic nomination should she 
run, she advised the audience and the media on Sunday that her focus was on the 
November midterm elections. Still, she left just enough hints that a second bid 
for president could come, and that it might begin in Iowa.



   After posing for photographs turning a grill full of red meat at Harkin's 
farewell "steak fry," Clinton stopped to say hello to the remaining reporters, 
after many had left.

   Asked whether she was glad to be back in Iowa, where her 2008 campaign hit a 
costly bump, she said: "It's great, it's fabulous to be back. I love Iowa."

   And then she launched into an anecdote she often told in Iowa at the outset 
of her 2008 campaign. "I first came to Iowa when I was about, I can't remember, 
I was either 9 or 10," she said. "And we were with my dad, and we went to Des 
Moines and we stayed at the Tall Corn Motel. I've had a great impression ever 



   Clinton insisted the point of speaking at Harkin's event was to boost 2014 
candidates. But she dropped hints of a potential 2016 candidacy into her speech 
to an audience packed with people wearing "Ready" stickers, symbols of the 
Ready for Hillary political action committee that is laying the groundwork for 
a potential campaign.

   Clinton described her personal concerns first as an expectant grandmother. 
"And then of course, there's that other thing," she said, fueling a slow but 
steady rise in cheers from the crowd. "Well, it is true, I am thinking about 
it, but for today that is not why I'm here." The caveat prompted a 
corresponding moan of disappointment.

   "Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns," she said 
later. "Look, I get excited about presidential campaigns too." she said. Again, 
cheers erupted.



   Clinton, who dueled Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination 
in 2008, joked about wondering whatever happened to that "young senator from 

   "It's been seven years and a lot has changed," she said. "We went from 
rivals to partners to friends, and sometimes we would even reminisce about old 

   She added, "Under President Obama's leadership, our country is on the road 
to recovery," before rattling off a list of improving economic indicators in 
Iowa, such as its unemployment rate of less than 5 percent.

   Specifically, she cited Obama's signature domestic initiative, the 2010 
health care bill, which Republicans have aggressively opposed. "President Obama 
and the rest of us will be quick to say we've got a lot of work to do," she 



   Clinton repeatedly noted during her 2008 campaign that she didn't want to 
become president simply because of her gender. But she pressed hard on gender 
issues Sunday.

   Referring to U.S. House candidate Staci Appel of Iowa, Clinton connected her 
pro-middle class message specifically to women. "Her experience with the 
economic pressures facing Iowa families made her think, maybe we can do 
better," said Clinton, who in 2008 had bemoaned Iowa's failure to elect a woman 
to Congress.

   "Iowans have a choice to make," she said, "a chance to elect a senator who 
knows that women should be able to make our own health care decisions." The 
comment, a reference to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley's support 
for abortion rights, prompted loud sustained cheers --- first from women, then 
men --- and a standing ovation.



   After seven years off the campaign trail, Clinton's "I'm back!" was not just 
a friendly hello to Iowa, but seemed to mark her return to retail campaigning.

   After she and former President Clinton finished speaking, she bounded down 
the stairs from the stage grinning, marching toward the throng of people 
standing at the plastic partition that separated the stage and the crowd.

   Bookended by Secret Service agents, she worked along the fence, shaking 
hands, posing for pictures and signing copies of her latest book and "Ready for 
Hillary" signs.

   Asked by a reporter if she'll be back to Iowa again, she said, "Well, we'll 
do what we can."


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