Hillary Clinton avoids email, foundation questions in base-rallying speech

Washington (CNN)The lead up to Hillary Clinton's speech to a Democratic women's group in Washington on Tuesday night was focused on two things: The controversy around her exclusive use of personal emails at the State Department and questions around her family foundation's fundraising practices.

Her speech, however, was not.
Clinton failed to mention any aspect of the two stories that dominated all coverage of Clinton over the past week, instead using her speech to 1,600 mostly women Democratic activists to focus on her vision of the future, the importance of electing women to office and her all-but-announced presidential plans.
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    "Don't you someday want to see a woman president of the Untied States?" asked the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2016 at Emily's List's 30th anniversary celebration gala.
    Clinton's campaign has long been seen as a forgone conclusion. The former secretary state and her aides are already putting the pieces in place for a campaign team and Clinton is encouraging all assumption by openly teasing her aspirations in speeches.
    "Along life's way you get a chance to make millions of decisions, some of them are big like do you run for office," she said on Tuesday with a smile.
    As she has done in the past, Clinton embraced what many Democrats expect to be the defining issue of the 2016 election: Economic inequality.
    "If we remember how to work and grow together, we can help more families find their footing in the middle class and make sure every one of our kids has a fair shot to climb that ladder of opportunity," Clinton said, after imploring Washington to work together "for everyday Americans whose grit and hard work drove our comeback and have always been the backbone of our prosperity."
    The former New York senator gave a sizable - and new -- nod to her party's labor union base, too.
    "As a nation," Clinton said, "we know that the American middle class was built, in part, by the right for people to organize and bargain on behalf of themselves."
    The acknowledgement could be seen as a knock against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whose successful and defining political fight against labor unions' collective bargaining rights launched him to Republican prominence and, possibly, a run for president.
    Clinton also knocked Republicans more broadly during the speech, telling the receptive audience that Democrats have only recently seen the GOP "sing out of the same hymnal" on economic issues. Other Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have made that case, charging that Republicans have paid more lip service to the problem of economic inequality ahead of the 2016 campaign.
    "It's like watching the end of Casablanca," Clinton said. "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, people are talking about it. Round up the usual suspects.'"
    Democrats shouldn't "want to discourage their new found interest," though, Clinton said.
    "We welcome them to come with their ideas, and we will match them," Clinton said. "And that is what elections should be about. Elections should be contests of ideas."
    Just as Clinton went after Republicans, she nodded to a number of prominent Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator that some liberals are trying to draft to run against Clinton in 2016.
    "It is because of you that Elizabeth Warren can work to hold Wall Street accountable," Clinton said of Emily's List, which has worked to elect pro-choice, Democratic women to office for the last 30 years.
    The group has long been supportive of Clinton and leaders have made it clear -- again on Tuesday -- they would be love to back the former first lady for a White House bid. The group pledged to outspend and out-fundraise their 2014 goals for a Clinton run, they told CNN last week.
    "In 2016, it is time to shatter that glass ceiling and put a woman in the White House," said Ellen Malcolm, the group's founder. "It is time to finish the job. We want Hillary Clinton to be president of the United States."
    With Clinton sitting just feet from the stage and hearing nothing but applause and roars from the audience, Malcolm continued, "Well, Hillary. You heard us. Just give us the word and we will be right at your side. We're ready to fight and we're ready to win in 2016."