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Hillary Clinton: First Impressions

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On May 6th, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held her first two fundraising events in San Francisco. I attended an afternoon event, featuring a confident, positive Clinton. While Hillary didn't address all of the questions that liberals might have asked, she gave enough specifics to win over most, if not all, Clinton skeptics.

Clinton used her announcement video to establish populist themes. Clinton observed, "Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top" Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion." The same tone dominated her San Francisco address.

First in Iowa and again in San Francisco, Clinton talked of four big fights that will focus her campaign rhetoric.

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The first is "building the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday." Clinton touts the economic progress made under the Obama administration and her plans to build upon it by addressing inequality. Hillary emphasized that a major feature of her economic initiative will be policies that help small businesses.

The second "fight" is "strengthening families and communities." Hillary Clinton recently wrote: "You shouldn't have to be the granddaughter of a president or a secretary of state to receive excellent health care, education, enrichment, and all the support and advantages that will one day lead to a good job and a successful life."

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An important part of this populist stance is raising the minimum wage. Another is improving the education system. Clinton promised to help those who are burdened with student loan debt -- this might be a holding place for an announcement that she supports Senator Elizabeth Warren's plan to refinance student loan debt.

Clinton includes immigration reform as an important component in her fight to strengthen families and communities. On May 6th, Clinton said: "The American people support comprehensive immigration reform not just because it's the right thing to do--and it is--but because it will strengthen families, strengthen our economy, and strengthen our country. That's why we can't wait any longer" for a path to full and equal citizenship."

At the San Francisco gathering, Hillary Clinton expressed her full support of The Affordable Care Act and her intention to strengthen Obamacare.

Clinton's third "fight" is "fixing our dysfunctional political system and getting unaccountable money out of it even if that takes a constitutional amendment." Clinton acknowledged that a winning campaign will require raising a huge amount of money -- The New York Times reported she plans to raise $2.5 billion. Clinton observed that's the reality she has to compete in but that doesn't mean our political system works.

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Finally, the fourth "fight" is "protecting our country from the threats we see and the ones that are on the horizon." Hillary mentioned the complexity of the situation in the Middle East and the new form of threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIL). She also mentioned cyber terrorism.

At the event I attended, Clinton didn't mention the threat posed by global climate change; however, her campaign manager, John Podesta, has indicated she'll make "climate change & clean energy" a major concern of her campaign (and package it as a threat to national security).

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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