Hillary Clinton hits local ties in speech at Hamilton College

Oct 7, 2013

Hillary Clinton seamlessly weaved local politics and foreign affairs in a speech to a packed house at Hamilton College Friday evening.

The former first lady, U.S. senator, presidential candidate and secretary of state had plenty of experience to dip into as she talked about current issues facing the nation like the government shutdown and U.S. foreign policy in Asia.

About 6,000 people packed into the field house at the small college, some sporting old campaign buttons and signs. Applause was boisterous anytime she mentioned youth or shared a local story.

"Of course, where else could I have come where I would feel so much at home?" Clinton said at the beginning of her address.

Being back in region was a special treat, she said.

Mrs. Clinton shared stories of connecting New York wineries with dairy farmers and bringing their products with her to Washington as a senator and then promoting them overseas as secretary of state. She was a New York senator from 2001-2009 before moving to the Obama Administration.

She spoke also about the refugee community that has pumped a new population into the area, especially in the city of Utica, where about a fifth of residents are now refugees.

"I thank the Mohawk Valley, and particularly Utica, for opening up your hearts and your homes; that's really who we are," she said.

She did not directly speak of any political aspirations during her speech, but made some jokes and references to being president. After being introduced by Hamilton's president, Joan Hinde Stewart, she said, "it isn't easy to be president of anything these days."

The gridlock and federal shutdown in Washington came up early in Clinton's address. She criticized the unwillingness for discussion and compromise among current lawmakers.

"It is hard to recall, in our own lifetimes, a previous time when politicians were willing to risk so much damage to the country to pursue their own agendas," said Clinton.

The last time the federal government shutdown was during her husband's presidency in the mid-90's, which she noted.

"When we let partisanship override citizen, when we fail to make progress on the challenges facing our country, our standing in the world suffers," she added.

Mrs. Clinton spoke for nearly 40 minutes and then spent another 20 answering pre-submitted questions.

She fielded questions about media coverage of her during her presidential campaign and women's role in politics. She referenced Eleanor Roosevelt in her response, saying a woman is like a tea bags, you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.