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Oct 10, 2014 5:54 AM

Clinton offers themes that could shape 2016 bid

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) As she explores another presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton often says anyone who seeks the White House needs a compelling message and an agenda for the country.

Clinton has announced no decisions about her political future but she is beginning to describe themes that could animate a future campaign.

At a Thursday night rally for Tom Wolf, the front-running gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, Clinton described a Democratic Party that "stands for families, stands for working people, stands for fairness and justice."

Pointing to equal pay for women, a boost in the minimum wage and stronger family leave policies, she declared, "a 20th century economy will not work for 21st century families. It is past time for a fresh start."

Wolf, who faces Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in next month's election, has used the "fresh start" tagline during his campaign but Clinton adopted it, an indication of how she might campaign during President Barack Obama's final two years. It was Clinton's first appearance at a public campaign rally this fall and came before about 1,000 Democrats at an event near Philadelphia's Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the U.S. Constitution was signed.

As Democrats try to maintain their Senate majority and win governors' races, Clinton has embarked on an extensive campaign schedule on behalf of her party. She is helping several Democratic women on the ballot, including those in states where Obama remains unpopular like North Carolina's Sen. Kay Hagan and Senate candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky and Michelle Nunn of Georgia.

She'll headline events next week in Colorado, Nevada, Kentucky and Michigan and travels to New Hampshire in early November to boost Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan in the nation's first presidential primary state.

During her summertime book tour, Clinton stumbled over questions about her family's wealth, at one point telling an interviewer that she and former President Bill Clinton were "dead broke" when they left the White House because of legal bills. Mrs. Clinton can now command $200,000 and more for paid speeches, even though she says many of the events have benefited her family's philanthropic foundation.

Liberals often question whether Clinton is too close to Wall Street from her days as a New York senator and worry she might not champion an agenda targeting economic inequality, themes expressed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others. But on Thursday, the former first lady offered glimpses of how she might address those concerns.

In her speech, Clinton, a newly-minted grandmother, said a nurse working at the hospital where baby Charlotte was born thanked her for advocating for paid maternity leave, which she says resonated with new mothers trying to balance work and family.

"You should not have to be the grandchild of a president to get a good education, to get good health care," Clinton said, urging that "we give every child in Pennsylvania the same chance that I'm determined to give my granddaughter."

Her speech included critiques of Republicans who seek to encroach on female reproductive rights and opponents of gay marriage.

Clinton, whose family foundation has received millions from corporate sponsors, said corporations "seem to have all of the rights but none of the responsibilities of people."

While the event aimed to mobilize female Democratic voters for Wolf, anticipation about Clinton's future was a recurring theme. Clinton beat Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia is vying to stage the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where Clinton could potentially become the first female presidential nominee of a major party.

"She's been a leader for all of us," Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., told the crowd. "And she's not done."


Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter at https://twitter.com/KThomasDC


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