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Clinton coy on 2016, but walks the walk

Nonetheless, on Thursday, private citizen Hillary Clinton sure sounded a lot like 2016 presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State, arrives for an event in New York City, New York, USA, April 3,2014.
Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State, arrives for an event in New York City, New York, USA, April 3,2014.

Hillary Clinton swears she's not interested in any job she doesn't have -- which would seem to include president of the United States. But that doesn’t mean she’s not already talking like a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

The former secretary of state spoke to an adoring audience during Thursday evening’s “Women in the World summit” in New York City, where she criticized gridlock in Washington, D.C., condemned Russian President Vladmir Putin’s incursion into Ukraine, discussed the need to bring jobs to America’s youth and made the economic argument for greater gender equality in the workplace.

Clinton spoke at the summit alongside International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde. The Q&A was moderated by The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

When Friedman asked Clinton if there was any other job that piqued her interest, clearly referring to the 2016 presidential election, the question was met with wild applause. The former first lady insisted, “Not right now.”

Nonetheless, private citizen Hillary Clinton sure sounded a lot like 2016 presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“We’re kind of marching backwards instead of forward,” she said. At another point, Clinton said: “I want to get back to evidence-based decision making,” blasting “pure ideology, pure partisanship” in Washington.  

On looking back at her time as secretary of state, Clinton played up her experience, saying she was proud of the economic stabilization under her tenure, which now allows the U.S. to deal with problems like the crisis in Ukraine. “I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense … I just don’t want to lose that because we have a dysfunctional political situation in Washington.”

Clinton also weighed in on Putin, saying his recent military incursion demonstrates how the Russian leader is “motivated by the past, to recreate it, reclaim it, restore the proper place of Russia in the world order.” She added: “I believe in the long run this is a losing strategy … We have to say ‘no’ to somebody like Putin.”

Lagarde, meanwhile, promised continued IMF support for the Ukraine. When asked if the U.S. was doing enough, Lagarde replied: “You want the truth? No.” 

Clinton has been slowly revving up her public appearances, sticking mostly to safe subjects like poverty, her upcoming book and women’s equality.

Earlier in the day, Clinton threw her support behind an initiative by the U.S. Agency for International Development to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. The event was slightly overshadowed by an Associated Press report earlier in the day claiming USAID (which has ties to the State Department) and the U.S. government were involved in a secret plan to build a Twitter-like messaging system in communist Cuba with hopes of spawning political unrest.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah told msnbc on Thursday that the program wasn’t “covert” and no laws were broken. The AP noted, however, that USAID’s actions contradict the group’s claims it does not engage in covert actions “and could undermine the agency’s mission to deliver aid to the world’s poor and vulnerable.”

Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the controversial project, was quoted by the AP in a 2011 speech saying the U.S. helps people in "oppressive Internet environments get around filters."

There was no mention of the Cuba project during either of Thursday’s events, but Clinton did make a comment during the USAID one, praising social media and the need for an overall development agenda to coincide with diplomatic and political agendas.

“The amount of corruption that is stealing the futures from these young people is just shocking,” Clinton told Shah during the Q&A part of the event at New World Stages, an off-Broadway venue in New York City. “So using social media to motivate them to connect them up, to stand for you know those bones – good governance, good accountability, strong anti-corruption measures—will open up possibilities for jobs to be created, for entrepreneurs to flourish.”

Clinton remarked that the USAID’s new program for a “global development lab” to help end extreme poverty “will focus on the most pressing issues. We will ask people to think outside the proverbial box and we intend to produce results.”

The lab, a partnership between USAID and 32 partner organizations, hopes to reach 200 million people in the next five years and find science- and technology-based solutions in a number of areas, including in health, food security, nutrition, education and climate change.