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Hillary Clinton watch: What's behind Hillary's Big Issue speaking tour?

Hillary Clinton launches a major series of speeches on issues ranging from voting rights and 'transparency' in national security to US global leadership. Some see the prelude for a 2016 presidential run.

By Correspondent / August 13, 2013

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting on Monday. Mrs. Clinton spoke about maintaining the Voting Rights Act and received a medal from the association.

Eric Risberg/AP

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In the first of a series of speeches on the erosion of Americans’ faith in government, Hillary Rodham Clinton laid out a case Monday night in support of the Voting Rights Act.

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“Anyone that says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention,” Mrs. Clinton said during the American Bar Association’s annual gathering in San Francisco.

Any high-profile public appearance by the former secretary of State stokes buzz that she's likely to launch a presidential bid for 2016. But what's notable about Monday night's address is that her comments were plainly political in nature – and clearly targeted to the Democratic Party base.

When Clinton ran for the White House in 2008 as the presumed front-runner, she found herself in a sustained primary battle with then-Sen. Barack Obama, and it was Senator Obama, despite his newness to the national scene, who made a love connection with the liberal Democrats who tend to vote in primary contests.

Signaling that she’s learning from past miscalculations, Clinton is engaging early in that courtship. Her remarks on the Voting Rights Act indicate that she is tending to the party’s most loyal activists – in this case, to the minorities who feel disenfranchised by laws they see as designed to keep them away from the polls. 

She is building a campaign without actively campaigning, recasting herself as a champion of those issues about which devoted Democratic partisans care most. And as NBC’s Mark Murray said this morning on MSNBC, there is no matter that “fires up” party voters more than issue of voting rights.

During the ABA event, Clinton criticized the US Supreme Court for, earlier this year, striking down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which designates which states must have federal approval of any changes in election laws.

"Unless the hole opened up by the Supreme Court is fixed ... citizens will be disenfranchised, victimized by the law, instead of served by it," Clinton said, and "that historical progress for a more perfect union will go backwards, instead of forward."

Clinton also targeted Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina for being particularly active in suppressing the vote. In North Carolina on Monday, the state’s Republican governor signed a law requiring government-issued photo identification at the polls. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have promised to mount a legal challenge.

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