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Hillary Clinton dives into midterms by supporting Democratic women

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacts to the cheers of the crowd as she arrives to address the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum annual Issues Conference in Washington, Sept. 19, 2014.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacts to the cheers of the crowd as she arrives to address the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum annual Issues Conference in Washington, Sept. 19, 2014.

Hillary Clinton waded deeper into the 2014 midterm elections Friday, using her first televised remarks at a national party event to heap praise on a long list of female Democrats on the ballot this year.

“Now, I know they might not be as glamorous as presidential elections, but these upcoming midterm elections are crucial,” the former secretary of state, who has presidential elections on her mind, told the Democratic National Committee's Women’s Leadership Forum Conference in Washington. 

Clinton, who was in Iowa last Sunday, lauded Staci Appel, a Democratic congressional candidate in the state. “She is a great mom who worked her way up from minimum wage to management, and with enough support, she could be the first woman ever elected from Iowa to the U.S. House of Representatives,” Clinton said.

Appel is one of more than 100 Democratic women running for Congress this year, along with 10 Democratic women looking for Senate seats and six running for governor. “If I could vote for all of them, I would!” Clinton cheered.

She also took a moment to give special attention to Mary Burke, who is challenging Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker. “She is offering a choice between more angry gridlock and progress that will actually make a difference for Wisconsin families,” Clinton said. “Wisconsin deserves better, and with Mary Burke, it will get better for the people and families of Wisconsin.”

Burke has fired a campaign consultant amid allegations that the candidate's jobs plan appears to have been plagiarized from other candidates.

Clinton shouted out almost every female Democrat running statewide in the country. “We have so many reasons to be hopeful. Mary Burke gives me hope. Maggie Hassan gives me hope. Martha Coakley and Wendy Davis give me hope. Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Michelle Nunn, Jeanne Shaheen, Natalie Tennant, they all give me hope,” Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said.

Clinton didn't mention Shenna Bellows, who is facing an uphill battle against Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, and Amanda Curtis, the Democrat running for Senate in Montana after the party’s favored candidate dropped out. She also skipped Gina Raimondo, the party’s gubernatorial nominee in Rhode Island.

Borrowing a bit from the populist message that has propelled some in her own party, Clinton presented Democrats as the ones who will look out for average Americans. “At a time when the deck does seem stacked against middle-class families in so many ways, we have a choice to make,” she said of the November elections.

Clinton, who spoke Thursday on women in politics at an event at the Center for American Progress, went on to decry the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, saying it “pulled the rug out for America’s women” just as the Affordable Care Act was coming online to help them. “It’s a slippery slope when we start turning over a woman’s right to her own health care decisions to her employer. Any my question is, will Congress do anything about it?” the former first lady said.

She also lamented that the celebration around the anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act "was tempered by troubling news on many fronts, from the outrages of the NFL to assaults against women in uniform and on college campuses."

Clinton was introduced by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has faced questions this week after Politico published a highly negative piece about her tenure.

Wasserman Schultz was the co-chair of Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and like Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke before her, Clinton went out of her way to praise the embattled Wasserman Schultz. 

“Debbie wears so many hats so well,” Clinton said at the beginning of her remarks, noting that Wasserman Schultz beat breast cancer and then passed legislation to help women who suffer from the disease. This week, Wasserman Schultz received an award from Susan G. Koman foundation for her work on the issue.

She’s “an example to us all,” Clinton said. “She fights for women, for kids, for families. So let’s give our chair another round of applause.” The audience gave Wasserman Schultz a warm ovation.

After her speech, Clinton stuck around to shake hands for about seven minutes.