BOSTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is daring women to compete, but not saying whether she will herself in 2016.
The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state addressed a women’s leadership conference in Boston on Wednesday, an event set just 30 miles from the New Hampshire state line as she weighs another presidential campaign.
Clinton had little to say about her political future, but offered a strong message to the largely female audience estimated at 3,500.
“There are times in all of our lives when we’re either given an opportunity or we see one that we could seize. And we get nervous. We worry. We’re not ready to dare anything. But I hope you will,” she said at the Simmons Leadership Conference set along the Boston waterfront. “Women have to dare to compete.”
It’s a familiar refrain from Clinton, who has focused on gender equality, among other issues, in a series of public appearances since leaving the Obama administration last year.
In a speech and subsequent question-and-answer session that spanned more than an hour, Clinton thanked the thousands of runners who competed in the Boston Marathon earlier in the week for sending “a message of hope, resilience and determination one year after the vicious attack.” Three people died and hundreds were injured in twin bombings near the finish line of last year’s marathon.
Clinton also drew on her experience as secretary of state, listing her biggest regret as the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. She called it “a terrible, senseless, terrorist action.”
Clinton’s proximity to New Hampshire, which traditionally hosts the country’s first presidential primaries, was as noteworthy as her remarks.
While potential Republican presidential candidates have begun aggressively courting New Hampshire voters in recent weeks, Clinton has avoided the state altogether since the 2012 elections. Despite her absence, the vast majority of New Hampshire’s top Democrats have lined up behind Clinton, the overwhelming Democratic front-runner should she run.
She has said she will make a decision about the 2016 presidential contest by the end of the year.
Massachusetts doesn’t have the same political significance as New Hampshire, but Massachusetts activists make up a significant portion of the volunteer armies needed for get-out-the-vote efforts when the New Hampshire primary season begins in earnest. Wednesday’s event also earned widespread media coverage across New Hampshire’s most populated areas, which get their television news from Boston stations.
“Even though it’s not in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire people will see the press coverage,” said Jim Demers, a New Hampshire-based Democratic operative. “It does continue to help energize people here who see that she’s not far away.”
After the Boston appearance, Clinton was scheduled to travel to the University of Connecticut to speak later Wednesday at a contemporary issues forum. The Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum at UConn was closed to the public.
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