CHICAGO Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday she will focus much of her attention on issues promoting early childhood development, women and children and economic issues as part of the foundation created by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
The former first lady and potential 2016 White House contender offered her most extensive description of her post-Obama administration agenda since leaving her role as the nation's top diplomat. Clinton walked out to applause on stage at a Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Chicago, calling the Clinton Foundation "my home" for several new public policy initiatives close to her heart.
"What I think we have to be about is working together, overcoming the lines that divide us, this partisan, cultural, geographic (divide)," Clinton said. "Building on what we know works, we can take on any challenge we confront."
Clinton's speech at the start of a two-day conference touched on themes that could be part of a future Democratic presidential campaign, with the former New York senator stressing the need for private and public partnerships to tackle issues like economic and educational inequality.
"This can't just be a conversation about Washington. We all need to do our part," Clinton said. The foundation has recently been renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation to reflect the family's full involvement in projects around the globe.
Clinton noted that she had visited 112 nations as President Barack Obama's secretary of state - "I'm still jet-lagged," she joked - and had learned several lessons during her travels around the world. Regardless of someone's circumstances or homeland, "what people wanted was a good job," she said. She also pointed to efforts in rural West Virginia to boost education and overcome poverty, saying economic inequality was "not limited to one county in West Virginia."
"There are too many places in our own country where community institutions are crumbling, social and public health indicators are cratering and jobs are coming apart and communities face the consequences," she said.
As secretary of state, Clinton promoted a number of initiatives to improve the standing of women and girls in developing nations and she said that focus would continue, both in the United States and abroad. Clinton also described efforts to bolster early childhood opportunities around the nation, a subject that Obama has pushed this year.
The former president said he was glad his spouse was joining him at the foundation "with her own priorities and projects." Clinton said he learned everything about non-governmental organization work from his spouse, who worked early in her career with the Children's Defense Fund and was active on a number of educational and health initiatives as first lady of Arkansas.