- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2015

Hillary Rodham Clinton returned Monday to Iowa, cozying up to grass-roots activists who backed President Obama over her in 2008 and will be key to her campaign in that early-voting state.

Mrs. Clinton met with about 60 supporters at the Mason City home of gay rights activist Dean Genth and radiologist Gary Swenson, who were supporters and organizers for Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Mrs. Clinton, who served as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state, got applause from the crowd when she thanked her old boss for the work he did to pull America out of the economic “mess” he inherited, according to a pool report.

“Everyone who was in his administration realizes unless the American family and the American worker is strong, everything we want for this country is going to be more difficult,” she said. “Although we have begun to move forward again, it is still hard to imagine how we are going to get to the point where people are not just getting by but getting ahead and staying ahead.”

The message tied into Mrs. Clinton’s focus on restoring economic opportunity for working-class Americans, though that campaign pitch has been tempered by the disclosure that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, earned more than $30 million last year.

On her second swing through Iowa since announcing her White House run a month ago, Mrs. Clinton continued to refuse to take questions from the news media, keeping her events small and restricting press access.

She explained to the crowd that her meetings with small groups helps inform her policy positions and prepare her for the presidency.

Mrs. Clinton recounted a conversation with a supporter who asked whether the small events were really about getting feedback for developing policy positions.

“I said, ‘Yes, it is.’ Not only do I learn a lot, I also feel like it is the best way to make those connections that not only give me a firm foundation here in Iowa it will also give me the kind of information I need to be a better president,” she said.

Mr. Genth told a reporter at the event that Mrs. Clinton’s reluctance to answer questions matters more to the press than it does to Democratic organizers in Iowa.

“We all know she is going to get grilled time and time again throughout campaign season,” he said. “If you want to know what she thinks, read [her book] ‘Hard Choices.’ You can really see how her mind works.”

Mr. Genth praised Mrs. Clinton for appearing at small gatherings of supporters like the one at his house. He said it reflects her appreciation for grass-roots organizing, despite the grumbling from some in Iowa that she has few authentic interactions with voters.

“It just thrills me that Hillary is coming to Iowa and really doing what Iowa caucusgoers love, which is having up-close personal interactions,” he said. “I think she is astute and smart at this stage of the campaign to come to Iowa and gather what is on Iowans’ minds.”

In her remarks, Mrs. Clinton also took a swipe at Republicans in Congress who sent a letter to the supreme leader of Iran to explain that lawmakers will have a say in any nuclear deal.

“I was outraged when a group of Republican senators sent a letter to the ayatollah,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I don’t care what party you are. We have one president, and we should stand behind the president.”

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