By LISA LERER
KEENE, N.H. (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton has found herself on the defensive during her first presidential campaign visit to New Hampshire this year, pushing back against swirling questions about her family foundation.
Clinton is taking part in a discussion of jobs creation Tuesday with students and teachers at New Hampshire Technical Institute, a community college.
But she spent much of Monday dismissing accusations that foreign governments that made donations to the Clinton Foundation received preferential treatment from the State Department while she served in the Obama administration.
“We will be subjected to all kinds of distractions and attacks,” she told reporters during a stop in the liberal bastion of Keene. “I’m ready for that. I know that that comes, unfortunately, with the territory.”
In her early campaign stops, Clinton has cast herself as above the political back-and-forth, vowing to change the harsh partisan tone in Washington. “I am tired of the mean-spiritedness in politics,” she told voters who gathered in a supporter’s living room in Claremont. “Enough with the attacks and the anger, let’s find answers together and figure out what we’re going to do.”
Her family foundation has come under particular scrutiny for accepting foreign contributions, including from Middle Eastern nations that deny equal rights for women and are on the front lines in the fight against terrorism. Last week, the foundation revised its policy to permit donations from six U.S. allies in Europe, Australia, and North America but to bar giving from other nations to fund its globe-spanning public health, anti-poverty, and climate change programs.
Republican candidates like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have seized on a coming book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” which argues that the Clinton family got speaking fees and donations in return for favors to various foreign interests doled out while she was secretary of state.
Clinton campaign aides and supporters moved quickly to discredit the author, Peter Schweizer, after word of his book emerged, casting him as a Republican operative working to defeat her. Schweizer is president of the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative organization, and has advised Republican politicians on foreign policy.
“He’s cherry-picked information that’s been disclosed and woven a bunch of conspiracy theories about it,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said on PBS’ “Charlie Rose.”
In New Hampshire, Clinton voiced her strong support for Social Security, a program some Republicans are eager to trim, describing it as “not a luxury” but “a necessity.”
Clinton also took issue Monday with economic views expressed by members of her own party, offering a dark assessment of a “stalled-out” U.S. recovery — a judgment at odds with President Barack Obama’s brighter view of what the nation has achieved on his watch.
“It’s not enough just to tread water,” she said.
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