Hillary Clinton sharpens tone, slams GOP ‘leadership’

New York CNN  — 

Hillary Clinton used her first speech as a presidential candidate on Thursday to knock Republicans who “offer themselves as leaders” but “who take a very different view” than she does on immigration, healthcare and women’s issues.

During Clinton’s time on the paid speaking circuit in 2013 and 2014, she regularly spoke about women’s issues and “how important it is to open up economic opportunities for girls and women,” as she said in March.

But on Thursday, Clinton took issues she used to speak about in apolitical terms and instead offered blunt partisan language to differentiate herself from her Republican opponents.

READ: Top Republican wants Clinton to testify twice

“American moves forward when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own healthcare choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employers like Hobby Lobby,” Clinton said, referencing a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that said certain for-profit companies cannot be required to pay for specific types of contraceptives for their employees.

Clinton knocked those “who offer themselves as leaders who see nothing wrong with denying equal pay” and those “who would defund the countries leading provider of family planning and want to let health insurance companies one again charge women just because of our gender,” a reference to Planned Parenthood.

“There are those who ofter themselves as leaders who would deport mothers working to give their children a better life rather than risk the ire of talk radio,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Clinton heralded the Senate’s confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the first African-American female attorney general in U.S. history. Lynch’s nomination was delayed for more than five months thanks to political wrangling in the GOP-controlled Senate.

“Been waiting months to say this: Congratulations to Loretta Lynch, officially confirmed as the next AG. Great news for her + for America,” Clinton tweeted.

At her New York event, Clinton doubled-down.

“There are those who offer themselves as leaders who even play politics with a nomination of our nations chief law enforcement officer,” Clinton said to applause. “Finally, Loretta Lynch will be able to assume the position she has trained her lifetime for.”

Clinton’s appearance at the Women In The World event was organized before she announced her campaign and her aides said the speech was not a campaign event.

“I wanted to be here regardless of what I was doing,” she said, mentioning later that someone in the the room may be “a future president.”

But the speech did served two purposes for the campaign: It sharpened Clinton’s political tone and helped her change the subject on what had been a rocky day in her presidential campaign.

Clinton faced serious questions about her time as secretary of state based on donations made to her family’s foundation, thanks to renewed scrutiny of possible conflicts of interest.

The presidential candidate turns her focus to fundraising next week when she headlines the first fundraisers of her second White House bid in New York and Washington.