Hillary Clinton Lays Out Campaign Goals in Iowa Roundtable

Hillary Clinton talks with students as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa on April 14. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton offered voters their first peek under the hood of her campaign Tuesday when she answered questions at a roundtable at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa. The event took place in an auto shop where Kirkwood students learn mechanics' skills.

Seated beside the school's president and surrounded by media, Clinton said her campaign has four general goals: to build the economy of tomorrow, to strengthen families and communities, to fix our "dysfunctional" political system and get "unaccountable" money out of politics, and to protect the United States from "threats that we see and ones that are on the horizon."

Against a backdrop of alternators and engines, Clinton emphasized her working-class roots: Her mother, she said, had a hard childhood, "but she never gave up." Her father, a small businessman, believed in hard work, she said. She also mentioned the lessons she learned from her church, "that you're supposed to give back."

Most of the students' questions concerned the rising costs of higher education. One of her goals, she said, is to make college more affordable and open, while "flushing out bad actors taking advantage of students and not really offering much in return.

"There's something wrong when students and their families have to go deeply into debt to be able to get the education and skills they need in order to make the best of their own lives," she said.

She also took the opportunity to defend Common Core standards, which former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a likely seeker of the Republican nomination, also supports.

Asked by a student what the government should do to support single parents struggling to attend school while also caring for their children, Clinton touted the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund.

Clinton finished on jobs, saying she thinks employers should be more flexible and predictable with regard to workers' schedules.

Clinton did not announce her campaign visit to Iowa in advance, leaving press scrambling to catch up to her campaign van, which is reportedly called Scooby.