At Emily's List Gala, Hillary Clinton Steers Clear of E-mail Controversy

The former secretary of state sounds very much like a presidential candidate.

Updated on
EMILY's List 30th Anniversary Gala

attends EMILY's List 30th Anniversary Gala at Washington Hilton on March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Photographer: Kris Connor/Getty Images

What e-mail controversy? 

Before a roaring crowd of supporters gathered on Tuesday night in Washington to mark the 30th anniversary of Emily's List, Hillary Clinton steered clear of any mention of the revelation that she used a private e-mail account during her tenure as secretary of state, and focussed her message instead on the economy while teasing her potential campaign for the White House.   

"I suppose it's only fair to say, don't you someday want to see a woman president?" the former secretary of state told a crowd of more than 1,600 gathered to celebrate the group that has helped pro-choice Democratic women reach every echelon of elected office short of the presidency. 

"Elections should be contests of ideas," Clinton said. "Women who have entered the arena well-equipped ... can make their case, can be elected." In another veiled reference to her plans, which are likely to include launching a campaign in April, she said: "Along life’s way you get a chance to make millions of decisions. Some of them are big, like do you run for office."

While Clinton wasn't shy about hinting at what might be next, she didn't talk about a recent flurry of unflattering stories swirling around her, including the Clinton Foundation's history of accepting contributions from foreign governments, and her use of a personal e-mail account while at the State Department.

Actress Uzo Aduba, left, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend the EMILY's List 30th Anniversary Gala on March 3, 2015, in Washington.
Actress Uzo Aduba, left, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend the EMILY's List 30th Anniversary Gala on March 3, 2015, in Washington.
Photographer: Kris Connor/Getty Images

Emily's List president Stephanie Schriock did, however, allude to the scrutiny Clinton has received in her introduction of the Democratic frontrunner. "Nobody in American political history has faced more unfair attacks, more desperate opposition than Hillary," she said. But Clinton has "shown us how to shake off the setbacks, ignore the haters and keep focused on moving our country forward."In an interview earlier in the night, Schriock said her focus Tuesday night was to "celebrate" the former secretary of state, who's been "such a champion for women and children around the country."

Clinton used her speech—just her second since late January—to sharpen her discussion of the domestic issues that will be at the core of her candidacy. 

Some people "roll their eyes when I say that women's issues are American issues. But they just have to get used to it," she said.

"We're not just standing up for women, but for all people," she later added. "Today there are too many policies and pressures that make it harder for parents, men and women alike, to work while also raising a family."

Clinton sounded many of the similar themes she has employed during recent stump speeches, but added some new lines of support and attack. "Elizabeth Warren can work to hold Wall Street accountable," she said as she ran through a list of women who have run for office because of support from Emily's List.

In a veiled shot at Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and a sign of support for the labor movement, she said that "the American middle class was built in part by the right for people to organize and bargain on behalf of themselves."

Others who preceded Clinton on stage also hinted at her plans.

"In 2016 we will elect that Democratic woman president and you know who I'm talking about," said Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who on Monday announced her plans to retire and drew an extended standing ovation from the crowd.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said there is the "possibility that for the first time in our nation, we might have a woman as president of these United States." 

Aware of what's ahead for her to get to that point, Clinton said, simply: "We have ... a lot to do in the next 20 months."

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE