by Jennifer Swift
Apr 23, 2014
08:51 PM
Connecticut Politics

Hillary Clinton takes the stage at UConn forum

Hillary Clinton takes the stage at UConn forum

Arnold Gold/New Haven Register

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum at the University of Connecticut.

In her opening remarks, tailor-made for a college crowd, former Secretary of State, Senator, first lady and possible Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton urged University of Connecticut students to participate in their democracy — and spoke of the need of the country to ensure everyone has the right to participate.

Clinton was keynote speaker Wednesday at the Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum, held on the UConn campus.

She tasked students listening to her — a generation she branded as one of “tolerant” and “open-minded” people — with “making sure that we remain the kind of country that enables people to live out their dreams as part of the overall mission of America,” which she said can’t be done without the “young people of America.”

“Let’s make the millennial generation the participation generation for all of us,” she said.

Later, during a question-and-answer session, Clinton touched on various topics — including her assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to to pay a “price” for invading Crimea — and her opinion on journalists, Washington gridlock, immigration and Edward Snowden.

Speaking to the audience of about 2,300, 70 percent of them students, Clinton said there is a larger question at hand, that’s now left up to the students and the current leaders, she said.

“Do we want to continue to be a country where everyone has an equal shot to participate and to live up to their full potential, or are we ready to break faith with all that has gone before and accept leaving a growing number of our fellow citizens marooned, sitting on the sidelines?” she asked.

During the Q&A session, UConn President Susan Herbst admitted she wouldn’t pose the presidential question on everyone’s minds.

Clinton gave the audience a look into what it was like to be one of the few invited to make a decision in the situation room about going into Pakistan for Osama bin Laden.

She said moments in the situation room can be “incredibly intense, and often stressful, but an extremely invigorating intellectual experience,” and said the decisions leading to bin Laden’s death contained all those feelings.

Clinton and others were tasked with recommending whether or not they should invade the compound where bin Laden was believed to be, after receiving information that was not 100 percent sure bin Laden was inside, or worth the risk. Her former role as a senator from New York added some weight to her decision, and Clinton said she believed it was a “good shot” to go in.

“For me, it was just justice being done, and it was something I thought people in our country had every right to expect,” she said. She admitted they those in the situation room held their breath waiting for bin Laden to be removed and loaded into the helicopter.

Since her role as secretary of state, Clinton has been able to watch somewhat from the sidelines as other foreign and domestic issues crop up.

Regarding the unfolding situation between Russia and Ukraine, Clinton said she believes there will be a price to pay by President Vladimir Putin for invading Crimea, and other actions he takes. She said the United States and Europe must support Ukraine in its upcoming elections — but also ensure that Russia pays a price.

She had no sympathy for whistleblower Edward Snowden, who released documents to the Guardian which depicted the extent of the United State’s spying on American citizens — and spoke of the potential harm in offering up such information, including making it available to dangerous organizations.

Clinton said it was “odd” that Snowden “absconded” to Hong Kong with the information — and then to Russia — “two countries with which we have very difficult cyber relationships, to put it mildly,” and couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t remain in the United States where there were whistleblower protections, or other options, short of fleeing.

“I have a hard time thinking that somebody who is a champ of privacy and liberty has taken refuge in Russia, under Putin’s authority,” she said.

Clinton then did her own voice impression of Snowden calling into a Russian radio show to question Putin about his spying habits on his own citizens — Clinton playing the role of both Putin and Snowden.

“And then he calls into a Putin talk show and says, ‘President Putin, do you spy on people?’ President Putin says, ‘From one intelligence professional to another, of course not.’ ‘Oh thank you so much.’

I have a hard time with that.”

Hillary Clinton takes the stage at UConn forum

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