Hillary Clinton came to Keene to listen to workers at Whitney Brothers children’s furniture plant. But she also offered up a tough assessment of the country’s small business economy.
“We have stalled out. I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it.”
Clinton didn’t dwell on this – or any other – topic that came up during the 50 minute roundtable discussion. But she pledged to seek solutions grounded in what she called the daily lives and experiences of American workers. Along that way, Clinton said the country needs to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, reduce child care costs, improve vocational education, and get what she called unaccountable money out of politics.
She said talks with voters, here and in Iowa, have also convinced her that rural and small town America are suffering a quiet epidemic of drug abuse.
“You know, I am convinced that the mental health issues, because I consider substance abuse a big part of mental health issues, is going to be a big part of my campaign, because increasingly it’s a big issue people raise with me.”
The former secretary of state referenced national security issues just once, and only to say the country must confront obvious threats. Mostly, she let workers steer the conversation, and it rarely veered from core Democratic concerns, like education and social security, which she said has lately been the subject of “a lot of loose talk.”
Clinton promised to fight any effort to “undermine” the program. She said changes may be necessary sometime, but said the social security trust fund is predicted to remain solvent for another 20 years.
“Part of what he we have to do is take a deep breath, lets figure out what works and how we build on what works and let’s not get into any arguments about ideology and rhetorical attacks and claims”
When the roundtable was over and Clinton took two questions from reporters, she did her best to follow her own advice. She didn’t argue when asked about a forthcoming book that alleges foreign entities that donated money to the Clinton foundation got preferential treatment at the state department. Instead, Hillary Clinton just bushed them aside.
“Well we are back into the political season and therefore will be subjected to all kinds of distraction and attacks and I am ready for that. I know that it comes with the territory."
Clinton then took a dig at her GOP rivals.
“I think it’s worth noting that the republicans seem to be talking only about me. I don’t know what they would talk about if I wasn’t in the race, but I am in the race.”
The next leg of that race gets underway this morning, when Clinton campaigns in Concord at NHTI.