BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turned the tables on a heckler Wednesday, in an effort to make a point about the need to find common ground to solve the nation’s problems.
During a speech at the University at Buffalo, Clinton first ignored the man’s shouts as she spoke of Buffalo as a model for problem-solving through cooperation.
“Because we can’t move from crisis to crisis, we have to be willing to come together as citizens to focus on the kind of future we want,” she said. As the shouts grew louder from an upper section of bleachers, she added, “which doesn’t include yelling. It includes sitting down and talking.”
The 6,500 people in attendance reacted with a sustained standing ovation as the heckler was led out.
Clinton spoke for about 30 minutes before taking audience questions, referring to her time representing New York in the U.S. Senate to illustrate a national strategy for advancing the economy. She said long-term investments she helped facilitate in technology, the arts and Buffalo’s waterfront are now starting to pay off for the region.
“That is exactly what we need to be doing,” she said, “in Buffalo, in New York, in America”
During the question-and-answer session, the former first lady deflected the inevitable question about whether she’d run for president by saying she hoped whoever ran would be able to “isolate the extreme voices” and allow the majority of people to be heard.
“I’m hoping we will — move away from the slash and burn politics, the name calling, the excessive partisanship that we’ve seen too much of lately,” she said.
In her talk, which was part of the university’s Distinguished Speakers Series, Clinton said the partial government shutdown that forced President Barack Obama to cancel a recent trip to Asia could negatively affect the way the U.S. is perceived in other countries.
“It’s important that the president of the United States shows up at these meetings,” she said.
“The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, showed up. Russian President Vladimir Putin showed up, and they were able to dominate the proceedings,” Clinton said, “and they were able to cock an eyebrow and ask a question like, well, maybe we can’t count on the Americans any more. Maybe it’s time to, in the words of one Chinese official, de-Americanize the world. Maybe we should even start thinking about a different reserve currency than the American dollar.”
Wednesday’s trip was Clinton’s second to upstate New York in recent weeks. She spoke earlier this month at Hamilton College, lamenting as she did again in Buffalo that too many people in politics were choosing “scorched earth over common ground.”
Clinton represented New York State in the U.S. Senate from 2001-2009 before being named secretary of state by Obama, who she campaigned against for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
Polls show she would be the leading contender for the White House in 2016 if she decides to seek the presidency again. Speaking to New York Magazine last month, when Clinton was asked whether she wrestles with running, she responded: “I do, But I’m both pragmatic and realistic.”
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