Hillary Clinton urges Iowa voters to finish 'shopping', choose her

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign event in Marion, Iowa, on Jan 24, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign event in Marion, Iowa, on Jan 24, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

IOWA (AFP) - Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday (Jan 24) urged Iowa voters still "shopping" for a candidate to choose her, saying she is better equipped than her rival Bernie Sanders to tackle Wall Street reform.

"I know some of you are still shopping. I'd like to shop too. I hope during the course of this afternoon to convince some of you," Mrs Clinton told about 600 people packed into a school gym in the town of North Liberty.

On Feb 1, voters in Iowa, in the US heartland, will cast the first ballots in the US presidential nominations process - a long road to Election Day on Nov 8.

Mrs Clinton, the former secretary of state, and Mr Sanders, a senator from Vermont, are running neck-and-neck in some opinion polls, though Mrs Clinton enjoys a wide advantage on a nationwide basis.

"As secretary of state, she stared down some of the toughest dictators in the world, and so I have no doubt that she can take on the Tea Party, and the gun lobby," said Ms Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, the influential US women's healthcare provider.

"She never blinks, she never wavers."

The message Mrs Clinton and her team sought to drive home was that her proposals are more realistic than those of Mr Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist who has put taking down the financial elite and Wall Street at the heart of his campaign.

He has repeatedly attacked Clinton over what he says are her close ties to some big banks, and has chastised her for giving paid speeches to Wall Street firms.

But Mrs Clinton fought back on Sunday.

"I have taken on Wall Street for years!" she said.

"I have a better plan to do it. No bank is too big to fail, and no executive is too big to jail," she added.

She also insisted on her foreign policy bona fides and the "very specific steps" she would take to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group.

She devoted a long section of her stump speech to her role in the Osama bin Laden raid in 2011, which several of President Barack Obama's aides considered to be too dangerous and risky. She said she encouraged Mr Obama to go ahead with it.

"The person who sits in that (White House) situation room has to be able to weigh intelligence and evidence to be able to really dig deep in these details, and I offer you my experience and my judgment," she said.

"We need to chart a steady course," she concluded - suggesting that a Sanders administration would lack such stability.

But some Democrats have been persuaded by Mr Sanders' idealism.

"I see a lot of people being swayed by Bernie Sanders," said Ms Dixie Ecklund, herself a Clinton supporter. Her husband, seated near her, has put a Sanders sign in front of their house, near her Clinton sign.