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Hillary Clinton finally takes questions, defends speech income

It's been nearly a month since former secretary of state and 2016 White House contender Hillary Clinton answered a question from reporters. At a panel discussion in Cedar Falls, Iowa, she responded when a journalist asked if she'd take questions. (Video: C-SPAN)

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Hillary Rodham Clinton broke a long drought to take a few questions from the traveling press here Tuesday, distancing herself from President Obama's trade pact and defending the millions of dollars she and her husband have made from giving speeches.

At the end of an event focused on small-business issues at a bicycle shop, Clinton also said in response to a reporter's question that she favors having the State Department release e-mails from  her time as secretary of state as soon as possible: "I want those e-mails out."

Clinton's second swing through Iowa comes amid new revelations about foreign donations to her family's foundation and speech income for her and Bill Clinton, who together brought in $25 million by giving paid addresses since early 2014.

During the short exchange with reporters after the event at Bike Tech, Hillary Clinton defended the work of the Clinton Foundation -- "I'm proud of the work it has done and the work it's doing" -- and dismissed questions about her wealth.

"Bill and I have been blessed and we're very grateful for the opportunities we had," Clinton said. "But we've never forgotten where we came from and we've never forgotten the kind of country we want to see for our granddaughter, and that means that we're going to fight to make sure that everybody has the same chances to live up to his or her own God-given potential."

She also fielded a question on the Iraq war, a topic that has bedeviled Republican presidential candidates in recent days. Clinton, who voted to authorize the war in 2003 as a New York senator, reiterated that she now believes the decision was wrong.

[Here's a clock that counts the minutes since Hillary Clinton answered a press question]

"Look, I know that there have been a lot of questions about Iraq posted to candidates over the last week. I've made it very clear that I made a mistake, plain and simple," Clinton said. "And I have written about it in my book, I've talked about it in the past, and what we now see is a very different and very dangerous situation. The United States is doing what it can, but ultimately this has to be a struggle that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people are determined to win for themselves."

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told reporters in Iowa that she wants the State Department to release her e-mails from her time as secretary as soon as possible. (Video: Reuters)

Before the brief press gaggle, Clinton made remarks distancing herself from an Asian free-trade deal that Obama is pushing and that she supported while serving in his cabinet.

But Clinton said Tuesday that "any trade deal that I would support must increase jobs, must increase wages, must give us more economic competitive power" and that she was waiting to know more before taking a firm position.

"There are questions being raised about this current agreement," Clinton continued. "It hasn't been fully negotiated yet, so I don't know what the final provisions are yet... So, I have said I want to judge the final agreement. I have been for trade agreements, I have been against trade agreements. I've tried to make the evaluation dependent on what I thought they would produce, and that's what I'm waiting to see."

Speaking at a town hall event in Iowa, Hillary Clinton touted her plans to help small businesses and banks. She accused Republicans of trying to "game the system for" big corporations. (Video: AP)