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Hillary talks up women's issues in Iowa

Hillary talks up women's issues in Iowa
© Getty Images

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Mammograms. Birth control. Rape.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump asks Biden to give Putin his 'warmest regards' Huma Abedin announces book deal Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records MORE on Wednesday talked up women’s issues in a way that fellow Democrat Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyThe Memo: Trump attacks on Harris risk backfiring 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP MORE hasn’t been able to in his tough Senate race against Republican Joni Ernst.

“It’s not enough to be a woman. You have to be committed to expand rights and opportunities for all women,” Clinton told about 400 Democratic supporters, as she stumped for Braley at a union hall.

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The former secretary of State’s roughly 23-minute stem-winder touched on a range of populist priorities, from protecting Social Security and Medicare to raising the minimum wage and keeping college affordable. But her remarks about women’s health and reproductive rights received the loudest and longest applause.

Clinton, who is largely expected to jump into the 2016 presidential race, never referred to Ernst by name. But she challenged the GOP state senator on sponsoring a so-called “personhood” amendment, which Democrats say would ban certain types of birth control, even in cases of rape and incest.

The former first lady also needled Ernst to answer whether she would deny women health insurance for contraception and force them to “just buy it over the counter.”

And she took the Republican to task for trying to repeal ObamaCare, a law Clinton said provides access to preventative services like mammograms.

“It was not so long ago that being a woman meant being labeled a pre-existing condition,” Clinton said, “and women were being charged more by insurance companies solely because of our gender.”

“You know where Bruce stands,” she added. “He doesn’t duck the tough questions.”

Iowa has never elected a woman to the U.S. House or Senate, or to its governor’s office. So, Republicans are framing the race as a historic opportunity for the Hawkeye State.

Braley, currently a congressman, is trailing Ernst by a few percentage points, according to a new poll that came out Wednesday. For Democrats to hold the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWe need a voting rights workaround Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits Two more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers MORE, Braley will need a big turnout at the polls from women, who typically favor Democrats.

Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel said her boss, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard who served in Kuwait during the Iraq War, is no stranger to women’s issues and has the backing of another female secretary of state.

“The truth is that Joni is a woman and a mom, who has the support of other strong woman including Condoleezza Rice,” Hamel said in an email. “Secretary Rice and Joni Ernst know what war is, and this is not a war on women.”

More female reinforcements are arriving for Braley on Thursday: Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate GOP blocks bill to combat gender pay gap OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps program: exclusive MORE and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate Democrats threaten to block 2026 World Cup funds unless women's soccer team get equal pay Senate confirms Biden's top scientist Senate chaos: Johnson delays exit as votes pushed to Friday MORE, both Democrats from Washington state, will join Braley in Des Moines at a rally once again focused on women’s health issues.

Clinton’s message on women’s issues appeared to resonate with many in the crowd on Wednesday.

Jessica Emerson, 32, said Clinton’s remarks about abortion and contraception were poignant. She backed Clinton in 2008 and wanted her 6-year-old son to see the former first lady speak ahead of Clinton's expected 2016 run for the White House.

“If Hillary runs in 2016, it’s something for him to remember,” Emerson said. “It’s a great experience.”

Peyton Bourgeois, 17, who attends Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, said she wouldn’t be able to vote in Tuesday’s election. But she hopes to cast a ballot for Clinton in 2016.

“It was mostly to see Hillary Clinton in person. I’ve never seen her in person, only on TV,” said Bourgeois, a Braley volunteer who accompanied her grandmother to the rally. “I just like the fact that she’s a woman, and she’s into politics. I think that’s cool and inspires others.”