In a highly anticipated appearance before a packed convention hall at Dreamforce 2014 in San Francisco today, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for less divisiveness, more trust, and a renewed focus on problem solving nationally and around the globe.
"We need accountable, transparent, effective government," said Clinton, whose remarks were interrupted several times by applause from the Salesforce conference attendees.
During her brief opening remarks followed by an onstage conversation with Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, Clinton focused on a number of themes which many believe will form the basis of her campaign for the White House in 2016. But she also refused to be drawn into any announcement of her candidacy for the nation's highest office.
"I don't want to make any news today," Clinton declared to laughter and further applause.
Reminded by Schwab that when asked whether it was time for a woman to be President of the United States during an appearance at his forum in 1999, she agreed and said "she would certainly vote for her," Clinton decided to follow the same path today. "I'll stick with that answer," said Clinton.
Despite her reluctance to make news that would involve her personal political ambitions, Clinton sharply criticized the current polarized climate that has prevented the passage of legislation in Congress. "We won't build relationships with those who disagree with us politically," said the former member of the U.S. Senate. "We need more opportunities for people to sit and listen and talk with each other."
Clinton also pointed to what she termed "the wrong incentives" as barriers towards progress in the U.S. "Human beings haven't changed that much, but the scrutiny and criticism of people in the public eye have changed dramatically," she said.
On the subject of technology, Clinton recalled her tenure at the State Department where she created initiatives for preserving an open Internet, calling this a "core value" which western democracies have tried to protect. "More oppressive regimes want more control over the Internet," she said. "I hope our side wins."
She also expressed concern over the impact the increasing speed of technology was having on the ability of world leaders to make long-term decisions and defended her extensive travel as Secretary of State because of it. "Technology has put a higher premium on face-to-face encounters," said Clinton.
Clinton praised Salesforce for its values of innovation, fun, and giving back. "These should be the core values for everybody," said Clinton, garnering cheers from the Dreamforce crowd.
She also described a number of initiatives that she and her husband - former President Bill Clinton - are running in communities across the United States as part of their work for the Clinton Foundation. These include a program called "Too Small To Fail" that encourages parents and businesses to do more for the health and well-being of children below the age of five.
"When it comes to our youngest children, we can't afford to leave any child behind," said Clinton, who recently became a grandmother herself following the birth of her daughter's child.
Clinton praised Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff for his fundraising work on behalf of community causes such as the recently completed Children's Hospital in San Francisco. "Ethics are as important as electronics," said Clinton, a slogan that could serve as a useful campaign platform if and when she decides to pursue a run for the White House that she declined to announce today.