Democratic candidate for President Hillary Clinton rolled out her plans for rural America during a stop in Ankeny Wednesday.
Clinton addressed a crowd of about 250 in the FFA building at Des Moines Area Community College, with a John Deere tractor as a backdrop.
“I know it’s a little unusual for a candidate for President to be making a speech about this at a community college instead of a barn or bale of hay,” Clinton says. “But at least we got a tractor,” she joked.
Clinton’s plan for revitalizing rural America ranges from boosting spending on farm programs, to making telemedicine more affordable. She says incomes and even life expectancy lag behind.
“Median household income in rural areas still less than urban communities,” Clinton says. “Farmland values, ag exports, commodity prices have all declined.”
Clinton would double funding for some farm programs and simplify regulations for community banks. And she’d support the renewable fuels standard to create more demand for ethanol.
“We need to capitalize on rural America's strength as a producer of clean renewable energy,” Clinton said to applause.
Clinton says her plans for affordable college tuition and more access to health care would benefit rural communities.
“I support President Obama's proposal to make community college tuition free,” Clinton says.
Joining Clinton at the podium was U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who recently endorsed her for President.
Clinton says immigration reform and expanding preschools would also benefit rural communities.
The Republican Party of Iowa released a statement calling the Clinton initiative bureaucratic and topdown.
Clinton also commented on the potential candidacy of Vice-President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for President. She says Biden will have to decide for himself whether to run.
“I think he has to make a very difficult decision for himself and his family,” Clinton says. “He should have the space and opportunity to decide what he wants to do.
“I’m going to be running for President regardless,” Clinton adds.
Clinton says that includes winning as many votes as she can in the caucuses and primaries.
Clinton commented on the recent death of Biden’s son Beau.
“The vice-president has to do what he has to do,” Clinton says.
Secretary Vilsack serves in the cabinet of the Obama-Biden administration, He says he stands firmly behind his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President.
"I know of no one in America who is tougher or more tested," Vilsack says.
Clinton’s one-day tour of the state included stops in Sioux City and Baldwin.
She heads next to Cleveland and Minneapolis before resuming her vacation and some high-dollar fundraising at the Hamptons on Long Island with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.