CONCORD, New Hampshire – Hillary Clinton thrilled Democratic lawmakers in this key presidential state Tuesday afternoon with a progressive message on climate change and campaign finance reform.
The comments, delivered in a closed-door meeting with local officials, are likely to please national liberals wary of her second presidential campaign. However, the former secretary of state declined to say much about a massive trade deal they hope she will oppose.
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While Clinton has struck a populist note on economic inequality in the video declaring her presidential run and in public events since, the closed-door meeting Tuesday saw some of her strongest rhetoric yet on two other issues important to the party’s base.
In the meeting with about 40 to 50 state legislators, held at the offices of the state Democratic Party in a residential area near the capital here, Clinton said the country government must do “whatever it takes” to convince Americans climate change is real.
Clinton reiterated her support for President Obama’s executive actions on carbon emissions, and suggested she might be open to more.
“I give Obama and the EPA enormous credit for going as far as he can go as a president using executive and regulatory action,” she said, according to pool reporter Annie Karni of Politico. “We have to actually convince more Americans that this is in their interest. You know, whatever it takes. I happen to think it’s a real threat. I think the science is pretty clear. The deniers, Lord knows, some day people are going to read about them and wonder, who were these people? And how did they say this?”
On campaign finance, Clinton said even total disclosure of campaign money is “not enough” on its own.
“What good does it do to disclose if somebody’s about to spend $100 million to promote their own interest and to defeat candidates who would stand up against them? What good does that do?” Clinton said.
If elected president, Clinton said she would try to re-make the Supreme Court so it would overturn the controversial 2010 Citizens United decision, which paved the way for super PACs and other outside groups to pour money into politics. “If I can get enough appointments as president, to put different people on the court, maybe that would work,” she said. But she added that retired justice John Paul Stevens told her the only way he thought real reform could happen would be through a constitutional amendment.
Clinton has made getting “unaccountable money” out of the political system part of one of the “four big fights” of her presidential campaign.
Clinton held a similar meeting with lawmakers in Iowa last week, but reporters were not allowed inside.
Democrats exiting the discussion with Clinton on Tuesday were uniformly positive on the meeting, and said her remarks on campaign finance got the biggest applause. They added that they appreciated her warm words for President Obama, on whose legacy she said she would run.
“She would be an outstanding president,” said state Rep. Janet Wall, who praised Clinton’s intelligence and depth of knowledge.
Still, many declined to endorse Clinton this early in the still nascent campaign, guarding their endorsement power in the key presidential nominating state.
Earlier in the day, Clinton held a roundtable discussion with students, professors and others at the New Hampshire Technical Institute, a community college that trains students in engineering and other technical disciplines.
As she toured the facility, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News asked Clinton about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive trade deal Congress is currently considering. “Any trade deal has to create jobs and raise wages. It has to be a partnership between our business our government and our work force,” Clinton said.
It was Clinton’s first public comments on the issue since announcing her presidential run 10 days ago, though she did not tip her hand on how she would ultimately come down on the issue.
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Clinton took plenty of notes on a yellow legal pad as she heard from participants, including the owner of a local factory who told Clinton he had trouble finding skilled workers despite the dearth of jobs in the area.
State Rep. Dave Luneau, an Independent who sits on the community college’s advisory board, said he found Clinton’s “candor” and attentiveness impressive. “She genuinely cared and was interested,” he said.
Clinton on Tuesday also visited the home of Mary Louise Hancock, a retired state senator who, at age 92, is known as the “grande dame of New Hampshire politics.”
The former secretary of state planned to travel to Washington, D.C. – on a commercial flight – for two events Wednesday, a campaign official told msnbc.
She will present awards at a program of Georgetown University run by a close friend, Melanne Verveer. And later, she will present an award for the Sasha Bruce House, a local charity that works with homeless youth. Both events have highly limited press access.
Clinton will likely visit South Carolina and Nevada, the remaining two states of the four early primary set. The campaign currently has no events planned for Friday.