WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton delivered a speech heavy on tech and gender issues in Silicon Valley on Tuesday, trotting out a series of anecdotes, personal stories and political arguments that will form the foundation of her campaign message. From the future that her granddaughter will inherit to the use of innovation at the State Department, Clinton made the case that she understands how to lead the economy forward.
“I know from my own travels and discussions how many Americans feel the jobs shifting under their feet,” Clinton said at a women and technology conference in Santa Clara, California. “Technology presents both peril and promise for all human beings.”
She commented on the falling percentage of women in computer science and noted that tech companies can be uncomfortable places for women. "We're going backward in a field that is supposed to be all about moving forward," she said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"As women, let us do more to help all women lead on and lead," she said. "You don't have to run for office -- although if you do, more power to you."
She homed in on the problems of the middle class, a topic that is likely to be the overarching theme of her campaign. “We can help more families find a way forward, find their footing in the middle class, find a way to see rising wages and rising hopes,” she said. “Our economic success is not a birthright, it can’t be inherited, it has to be earned by each generation.”
She made women’s issues and her history as a woman in business and politics a focal point of her speech. Clinton generally avoided focusing on gender during her first presidential campaign, but is moving toward making it a central element in her likely bid in 2016. Asked why a woman would be a good president, Clinton pointed to her time in the Senate and the work of other women in the chamber. “The experience of being a woman, the ability to see what others might not see either as gender discrimination or marginalization, gives us a chance to speak up, be heard and make changes,” she said. But she danced around the question of whether she plans to run, saying she is still checking items off a list made in preparation.
Clinton also addressed a couple of hot-button issues, like net neutrality. She said she agreed with President Barack Obama’s decision to try to regulate the Internet like a utility. But she said Congress should undertake a comprehensive legislative approach that addresses more than net neutrality. “It’s a foot in the door, it’s a value statement,” Clinton said. “I think the president is right to be upfront and out front on that.”
Asked about the NSA, Clinton criticized Edward Snowden for stealing documents, and said other countries have wrongly criticized the United States while engaging in more egregious spying on corporations. “I think the NSA needs to be more transparent about what it is doing and share more with the American people, which it hasn’t,” Clinton said. “The NSA has to act lawfully and then we as a country have to decide on what the rules are.”
Asked if Obama has done enough to combat the terror group ISIS, she stuck to explaining the situation. “It’s a very hard challenge because you can’t very well put American or Western troops in to fight this organism. You have to use not only Air Force but also army soldiers from the region, particularly Iraq,” Clinton said. “I think a lot of the right moves are being made but this is a very complicated and long-term problem. This is a long-term struggle.”
In the question-and-answer period after the speech, Clinton divulged that she has both an iPhone and a BlackBerry, that she is “two-steps from a hoarder,” and joked about hosting the Oscars in lieu of running for president.
She made it clear that she hasn't adopted wearables yet, admitting, "You can tell I am not doing Fitbit."