Weeks before she’s expected to announce a run for the the White House, Hillary Clinton spent Monday morning reconnecting with the liberal – and sometimes critical – faction of the Democratic Party.
Clinton outlined a case for economic fairness and bipartisan cooperation, the themes that are expected to serve as the backbone of her campaign, at the left-leaning Center for American Progress research center, where she sat alongside members of the labor, civil rights and Latino communities.
“A lot of our cities really are divided,” Clinton said “They have a lot of inequality that has only gotten worse. They have some of the most dynamic, well-educated, most affluent people in the world – and people who are trapped in generational poverty and whose skills are not keeping up with what the jobs of today and tomorrow demand.”
Clinton didn’t mention running for president at a panel discussion focused on the plight of urban communities. But she did talk about the possibility of working toward bipartisanship several times.
Americans need to “get out of the very unproductive discussion we’ve had too long where people are just in their ideological bunkers having arguments instead of trying to reach across those divides and come up with some solutions,” she said.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, senator and first lady, is polling far ahead of any potential challengers for the Democratic nomination, but some more liberal members of her party have complained that she’s too close to Wall Street.
The political action committee of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who’s also considering a run for president, sent out an email focused on regulating Wall Street as Clinton ended her remarks.
In her remarks, Clinton praised a prekindergarten program by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a favorite of the liberal wing, as well as those on the panel, including Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Weingarten worked on a project with the Clinton family foundation.
Clinton seized on the work of Aja Brown, the mayor of Compton, Calif., who talked about convening a meeting with gang members to try to find a path to peace.
“What you did with gangs and gang members is exactly what needs to be done in so many parts of our country,” she said. “So don’t be too surprised if you get a call. Maybe we’ll start not too far from here, in a beautiful domed building, where we’ll get everybody in the same room and start that conversation that could lead to collaboration and better results for our cities and our countries.”
Clinton spoke to a friendly crowd. The audience consisted of fewer than 50 people, who were affiliated with the 10 speakers on the panel, co-hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.
She was joined by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who’s sometimes mentioned as a possible vice-presidential pick, and the think tank’s president, Neera Tanden, the policy director for Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 campaign. Seated in the front row was John Podesta, a former aide to President Barack Obama who’s widely expected to be chairman of Clinton’s campaign.
After the event, Clinton didn’t answer questions but she shook hands with people in the front row. “Madam President,” one person said when greeting her.
She was to speak at an awards ceremony Monday night in memory of Robin Toner, the first woman to be the national political correspondent of The New York Times.