By Ben Kamisar
Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonObama to make clean energy pledge: report Anti-Trump leaders sending 'advance team' to Cleveland: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE on Monday pledged to take on the “drug epidemic” as she made another visit to the early voting state of Iowa
Clinton said she had not expected to focus on drug abuse or mental health in her White House run, but had heard from voters that those issues were too pressing to ignore.
“But I’m now convinced I have to talk about it. I have to do everything I can in this campaign to raise it, to end the stigma against talking about it."
Clinton has had the luxury of staying on message throughout her campaign’s first month. Facing no serious challenger for the Democratic nomination, she has kept her distance from the press, refusing to answer question from the throng of national reporters who are following her across the country.
Fellow Republican candidates have bashed Clinton for not taking questions on the campaign trail. Carly Fiorina, for instance, took aim at Clinton on Saturday in Des Moines at the state GOP dinner.
Clinton’s campaign appears undaunted by the criticism, and has eschewed the large speeches that typically come with a national campaign in favor of smaller events with voters. The candidate did not take questions from reporters on Monday.
During her speech, Clinton said that drug abuse places “huge strains on families" like the ones she's met on trips to Iowa and New Hampshire. She said that many people she met with in Iowa spoke to her about the state’s struggle with methamphetamines, while those in the Granite State shared with her the state’s issues with heroin.
“In the past year, I’ve been told reliably that we had more people die of drug overdoses than automobile accidents for the first time in our history,” she said, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers.
“This is tearing families apart but it is below the surface, we aren’t talking about it because it is something that is hard to deal with."
She lamented the lack of available treatment for those with mental illnesses, noting that a California high school student told her that four fellow students had recently committed suicide at her high school.
The former first lady also praised the Affordable Care Act, saying that America is now in a “different world” now that 16 million additional people have health insurance. As she’s said in the past, she signaled a willingness to address fixes to President Obama’s signature law.
She said “one problem” with the law is that young adults who stay on their parent’s insurance until they turn 27 are kicked off that plan with few options.
“A lot of people are not making the income they need to be able to afford their own healthcare, so we have to look out and see what we are going to be able to do about that,” Clinton said.
Clinton also pointed out that the opposition to the law, specifically from Republicans, is subsiding, and questioned whether those who want the law repealed have their own plans.
“I think the reason is that there are a lot of people that they may actually be encountering from time to time who have been helped,” she said.