MONTICELLO, Iowa—Hillary Clinton may have been speaking to just 22 people here at her Iowa kickoff event, but the now-official 2016 candidate was looking far beyond the voters in the room when she outlined in the clearest terms yet the rationale for her campaign.
“A lot of people in the last few days have asked me, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ and ‘What motivates you?'” Clinton said at the event. “And I’ve thought a lot about it, and I guess the short answer is, I’ve been fighting for children and families my entire life. … I want to be the champion who goes to bat for Americans.”
Clinton named four areas of focus for her campaign: building the economy up “tomorrow, not yesterday,” strengthening families and communities, fixing the country’s “dysfunctional political system”—including getting “unaccountable” money out of the system—and protecting Americans from external threats.
It was her first time in Iowa since visiting the state during the 2014 midterm elections—and her first as a candidate since January 2008 on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. And the small, by-invitation-only format reflected her team’s explicit focus on more-intimate meetings with voters as Clinton tries for a second time to win the Democratic nomination.
Gone are the soaring speeches and the big rally crowds, swapped out for roundtable discussions and meet-and-greets with local activists.