Clinton makes pro-union pitch to voters on Labor Day

Story highlights

On Labor Day, Hillary Clinton pledged "to defend and protect your right to organize collectively," as president

Clinton also told The Associated Press in an interview she "did what was allowed" when it came to email at the State Department

Cedar Rapids, Iowa CNN  — 

Hillary Clinton remained focused on Republicans during a two-day swing through Iowa, and told voters on Labor Day one of her biggest jobs as president will be “to defend and protect your right to organize collectively.”

Clinton marked the Labor Day holiday at an event in Illinois – just across the Mississippi River from Iowa and within the Davenport media market – at an event with union organizers.

Clinton promised to “make sure that some employers go to jail for wage theft and all the other abuses they engage in” and to protect union pensions.

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“It is going to be a fight. Make no mistake about it. It’s going be a hard election,” Clinton said at a backyard meet-and-greet on Sunday in Cedar Rapids. “The other side has said they will spend, do, and say anything to win back the White House. I have a little experience with that and I am absolutely confident that whatever they throw at me, I can throw it right back.”

Clinton sat down for an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, where the former secretary of state said she doesn’t need to apologize for her nagging email controversy because “what I did was allowed.”

“(The email controversy) hasn’t in any way affected the plan for our campaign, the efforts we’re making to organize here in Iowa and elsewhere in the country,” Clinton said. “And I still feel very confident about the organization and the message that my campaign is putting out.”

In an interview with MSNBC earlier this month, Clinton apologized for the “confusion” around her exclusive use of a private email server as secretary of state and took responsibility for the controversy, but declined to outright apologize for the email set up.

The interview with the AP was one of the few times Clinton mentioned her email controversy during the Iowa swing. She did not take questions from the press during the trip and instead used most of her appearances to hit Republicans and talk with Iowa voters.

Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack, the only Democrat in Iowa’s federal delegation, endorsed Clinton at the event, too. Loebsack, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told the audience that “there is nobody more qualified running for president of the United States than Hillary Clinton. No one.”

Most of Clinton’s time in Iowa was spent at smaller events where the candidate spent time mingling and shaking hands with Iowa voters.

At the Hawkeye Labor Council annual picnic on Monday morning, Clinton met with 90-year old Jean Oxley, the first woman chair of the Linn County Board of Supervisors. Clinton told Oxley that she paved the way for women candidates.

“You are one of the people who started it going,” she said. “You did, you did.”

Clinton also met Iowa voters at a small meet-and-greet at State Sen. Liz Mathis’ house outside Cedar Rapids on Sunday night, where Julie Thomas, a repeat congressional candidate and well known Democratic leader, told Clinton to keep her head up on the email controversy and called them “housekeeping” issues.

“I think that Hillary could use that term even more appropriately,” Thomas told Clinton, who called the the idea a “good suggestion.”

As she has done for nearly the entire summer, Clinton will look to get past the email controversy this week with a speech on Iran, an interview with Ellen DeGeneres and a swing through Ohio and Wisconsin.

Throughout all of it, Clinton’s aides said the candidate will cast herself as qualified and prepared.

“I believe,” Clinton said on Monday, “I’ve got the vision, the policies, the skills, the tenacity and the determination to get us back on the right track.”