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Hillary Rodham Clinton Talks Social Change in Campus Visit

February 26, 2014
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Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, delivered a spirited speech to students, faculty, staff and invited guests at the BankUnited Center during a visit to the University of Miami on Feb. 26, 2014.

She spoke of the importance of everyone playing an active role in bettering society, noting that even the earliest Americans, such as farmers who would travel miles just to help build a barn, understood the concept.

She recalled attending a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago and being inspired by the great civil rights leader’s plea for citizens to “participate in the cause of justice.” She talked about health care, renewable energy, and how she and President Obama had a shared vision of democracy and economic prosperity for Latin America.

But in the end, Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking Wednesday evening to thousands of students, visitors, and VIP guests at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center, avoided the million-dollar question on everyone’s mind: whether she will make a second run for the White House in 2016.

Her talk, which included opening remarks followed by a Q&A sit-down with UM President Donna E. Shalala—who, in her introductory comments referred to the former first lady as “a formidable champion of human rights”—took place as the list of potential candidates for the Oval Office continues to grow.

A recent New York Times/CBS News Poll shows most Democrats—8 in 10—want her to make a bid for the presidency. But when Shalala asked Clinton a cleverly couched question submitted by UM law student Howard Brilliant, who asked the former first lady to provide “some insight” into how the TBD in her Twitter bio will play out, Clinton wouldn’t provide any clues.

  
  

“Well, I’d really like to, but I have no characters left,” she joked, referring to the 140 character limit on Twitter posts. “I will certainly ponder that.”

Clinton also took questions on issues ranging from health care reform and renewable energy to the tense situation in Venezuela. One question came from School of Business undergraduate student Jordanna Ishmael, who asked about the turmoil in Syria and whether the international community can do anything to ensure disarmament there.

“The agreement that the Assad regime entered into, to disable and remove the chemical weapons stocks, was a possible step, but it has not been fulfilled,” said Clinton. “And so we have to stay focused on getting the chemical weapon stocks out of Syria. We don’t want them to fall into the hands of terrorist groups…that is something that is absolutely at the top of our lists to prevent.”

Clinton urged students not to take for granted the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents so that they could attend college. She urged them to be a part of the “participation generation” and commended them for efforts such as participating in 200 service-learning courses and traveling to Guatemala on a humanitarian mission that included building a playground for residents of a village.

“The more we can get people to participate to have a stake in the future, the better off we will be,” Clinton said.

Her talk reunited her with Shalala, who served on President Bill Clinton’s cabinet as U.S. secretary of health and human services for eight years.

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