Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave back-to-back speeches this morning to open a Clinton Global Initiative conference in Chicago that offered no new clues about whether she will run for president in 2016.
In introducing his wife, former President Bill Clinton announced that Hillary would be working full-time on his foundation, which will be renamed from the Clinton Foundation to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Hillary Clinton, who received a louder and longer ovation than the former president, said her work would focus on three key areas that “have been close to my heart for my entire adult life: early childhood development, opportunities for women and girls and economic development that creates jobs and gives more people in more places the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.”
During a nearly half-hour speech to several hundred business and government leaders she said the push to create more opportunities for women is the “great unfinished business of this century.”
“When women participate in peace making and peace keeping, we are safer and more secure, and when women participate in politics, the effects ripple throughout society,” she said to a loud round of cheers.
Before she spoke, Emanuel gave a short address on one of his familiar topics--the need for cities to find innovative ways to rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and rail lines when fewer state and federal resources are available.
“There is not a single mayor who is not facing this challenge,” Emanuel said. “We have challenges to invest in our cities, and we have very little public resources like we used to have, so we have to figure out how to come up with public-private partnerships to actually solve this problem.”
The mayor also touted two announcements he made today with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to further develop the city’s infrastructure.
The first was the closing of a $99 million federal loan to complete the Chicago Riverwalk and the second was LaHood’s invitation for the city to apply for a federal loan to aid an $884 million project to consolidate rental car operations and public parking at O’Hare International Airport.
After Emanuel spoke, Hillary Clinton offered the mayor a political pat on the back.
“As someone who was born in this city and have spent so many wonderful years growing up here, and coming back and visiting, it’s exciting to see what it looks like, what it’s doing,” she said. “And I appreciated what Mayor Emanuel is telling us about all the other tasks that are being undertaken to ensure Chicago is a global destination and, in fact, a competitive city across the world.”
The speeches served as the curtain raiser on the third annual Clinton Global Initiative America conference, a two-day event in which the former president's wide-ranging organization holds discussions on key issues in the country’s future.
Hillary Clinton’s speech, one of her first major public appearances since leaving the State Department in February, comes amid widespread speculation that she will embark upon a 2016 presidential run. Those political flames were fanned earlier this week when she made her debut on Twitter. She joined the social media site on Monday and by Thursday morning already had more than 450,000 followers.
Prior to taking the stage, Clinton sent out just her second tweet, proclaiming “What an incredible Twitter welcome! In my hometown Chicago for #CGIAmerica.”
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