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Hillary Clinton defends emails, slams GOP's small business agenda

Hillary Clinton said all of the information exchanged in emails on a private server during her tenure in the State Department was "handled appropriately."

HAMPTON, New Hampshire – After declaring in Iowa earlier this week that she wants to be “a small-business president,” Hillary Clinton came to a craft brewery here Friday to slam Republicans for trying to kill what she called a crucial institution for small companies. She also answered questions from reporters on the ongoing controversy over her private email account, moments after the State Department released almost 300 of them. Clinton said all the information in the emails was “handled appropriately.” 

Her comments came after a roundtable discussion at Smuttynose brewery here, where she defended the Export-Impact bank, which she said supports 164,000 American jobs.  

“It is wrong that Republicans in Congress are trying to cut off this vital lifeline for American small businesses,” she said “Republican candidates for president who really should know better are jumping on this bandwagon, and it seems as though they would rather threaten the livelihood of those 143,000 jobs than stand up to the Tea Party and talk radio.” 

RELATED: First look at Hillary Clinton’s emails on Benghazi

She called the attacks on the Export-Import bank "wrong" "embarrassing" and "absolutely backwards." 

Long a noncontroversial government agency, the Export-Import bank, which helps companies engaged in international trade secure financing, has lately become a top target for some libertarian-leaning conservative. Tea Party activists and others view the bank as “crony capitalism,” and have mounted several attempts to kill it in Congress.  

New Hampshire is an exporting state, and Clinton said the Export-Import bank helps many local businesses around the state. 

Fred Hochberg, the Obama-appointee who runs the Export-Import bank, is a longtime Clinton donor and was one of her top bundlers during her 2008 presidential campaign. He also ran the Small Business Administration under the presidency of Clinton’s husband. 

As she did at a similar event at a bike shop in Iowa Tuesday, Clinton noted that her own father was small businessman. Hugh Rodham owned a tapestry business in suburban Chicago, where Clinton grew up, and taught her the value of hard work and entrepreneurship, she said.  

But even as Clinton laid out her message here, questions swirled nationally over her use of a private email account while she served as Secretary of State.

 In the middle of her event here, the State Department released its first batch of Clinton’s emails -- 296 documents put online about 30 minutes after she began her remarks.  

After the event, Clinton, took questions from the press for the second time this week. She defended her use of private emails after being asked by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

“All of the information in the emails has handled appropriately,” she replied, adding that she was glad the emails are coming out. “I want people to be able to see all of them.”

It’s expected to take months for all 55,000 pages of email Clinton turned over to State to be fully released.  Asked if she was worried that people don’t trust her after the email issue, she replied only, “I’m going to let the Americans decide that.” Meanwhile, thursday night, the Clinton Foundation also disclosed information on 97 speeches Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton gave on behalf of the charity since 2002. The speeches, mostly from Bill Clinton, raised between $12 million and $26 million for the charity’s work from a wide range of companies, banks, universities, and nonprofits.

Also that night, Sidney Blumenthal, the former Clinton White House advisor who sent Secretary Clinton intelligence-like reports on Libya before and after the Benghazi terror attack, defended himself and said he had agreed to testify before a House committee investigating Benghazi in a statement Thursday night.   

Clinton also met with grassroots organizers in New Hampshire Friday. She heads to South Carolina and Florida next week.