Notably not addressing whether she would run for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton urged a packed audience at the UConn Storrs campus on April 23 to continue to be the “participation generation.”
The former first lady, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State’s appearance at UConn headlined the Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum, a lecture series funded by a grant from the Fusco family of New Haven.
She opened with shout-outs to her friends in the audience, including former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Richard Blumenthal, who was Clinton’s law school classmate. “I’m hoping he doesn’t tell anyone what we did in law school,” she joked.
Pandering to her UConn audience, Clinton congratulated the men’s and women’s basketball teams to a roaring cheer from the crowd of more than 2,000. She even rattled off names of each team’s star players, professing herself to be “a huge fan of Shabazz Napier.”
The message of her prepared remarks targeted her UConn audience, urging millennials to get involved. Today’s young people, she said, are making this a “participation generation,” by volunteering in record numbers and using popular support to push issues like LGBT rights forward. Unemployment or underemployment among young people, Clinton said, was hindering this participation.
“We can’t permit those who would be willing to participate to feel like we no longer need or want them,” she said.
Clinton recounted her experiences leading up to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. She described her anxiety watching footage of the raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan compound from outside the compound while the raid was underway, which was the only footage they were able to see, and her feeling of “justice being done” when they received confirmation he was killed.
When asked about the emergence of Edward Snowden, Clinton was critical of his decision to abscond to China and then Russia “when we have all these protections for whistleblowers” in the United States.
“I have a hard time thinking that someone who is a champion of privacy and liberty has taken refuge in Russia, under Putin’s authority,” she said.
Among the questions posed to Clinton, Herbst said she was not going to ask the one question everyone wanted her to ask, referencing Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
“We heard you’re going to be a grandmother,” Herbst told Clinton before she left the stage, presenting her with two sets of baby-sized husky apparel for her daughter Chelsea’s future child.