Hillary feels the love at women's rights event

A Georgetown event on Afghan women's rights Friday gave Hillary Clinton her latest opportunity to shine on the public stage ahead of a potential 2016 run.

The former secretary of State was greeted by thunderous applause as she appeared on-stage alongside fellow former first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State John Kerry. The event gave her and supporters a chance to remind the public of her longtime support for women's rights, including ongoing efforts to make sure the gains of the past decade aren't reversed when U.S. troops leave Afghanistan next year.

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We need to “think of ways we can be creative to support the women and men who are trying to move Afghanistan forward,” said Clinton, whose recent efforts include a push to increase the number of women in public service around the world when she was at the State Department and her current “No Ceilings” initiative at the Clinton Foundation. “We will certainly, the three of us, be deeply involved in making that case, but we need a virtual army, now that the real Army is leaving, we need a virtual army to help us make the case and to build that awareness here in the United States and around the world,” she said.

Bush joined her in urging continued U.S. involvement to prevent a return to the Taliban era, when girls could not go to school.

“I'm so worried that once our troops leave, no one will pay attention again to Afghanistan,” Bush said. “We just can't take that risk.”

The event was hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, whose executive director, Melanne Verveer, was Clinton's chief of staff at the White House and served as the first-ever ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues in Clinton's State Department. Co-sponsors include the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. Afghan Women's Council — of which Clinton and Bush are both co-chairwomen — and the U.S. Alliance in Support of the Afghan People.

Clinton would be the presumptive Democratic front-runner in 2016 if she decides to run. She has increased her public visibility in recent months, launching a Twitter account, penning a deal for a memoir of her years as President Obama's secretary of State, and publicly campaigning for Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe.

Her biggest booster Friday was Kerry, who said no one had done more for Afghan women's rights than Clinton and Bush.

“For all the men studying here in Georgetown, who sit in classrooms where Bill Clinton sat so many years ago, my advice to you is this: Study hard, go to Oxford, become governor of your state,” Kerry said. “And then maybe you can marry one of the country's remarkable secretaries of State.”

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