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Clinton talks 'baby bonds'

From NBC's Athena Jones
Every baby born in America should receive money that can later be used to pay for college, Clinton told the crowd at the Congressional Black Caucus annual legislative conference in Washington on Friday.

"I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so when that young person turns 18, if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college," Clinton said, calling it one way to give young people a chance to save money tax free.

Clinton also said the GI bill should be expanded and talked about the importance of making college affordable for everyone. She touched on the need to end discrimination in hiring practices, so that when people graduate college, they can make a decent living. She added that politics should be about giving young people the opportunities to live up to their potential. "Everything we do, I believe, is about young people," she said.

Clinton said the greeting most common among the Masai tribe of Africa is not, "How are you?" It's "How are the children." This is the question we should ask ourselves, she said. 

Clinton and Obama have been working hard to court black voters, a key Democratic constituency.

***UPDATE***Clinton spoke to the crowd of more than 500 for about an hour, taking questions from mostly young people in the audience and interrupting herself at times to greet politicians she spotted in the room. At one point she said the questions being put to her at the forum were better than the questions asked at Democratic debates. 

She opened by saying she wanted to have a conversation about the issues facing the nation and touched on the celebration this week marking 50 years since the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and last week's march in Jena, LA in support of six black teens charged in beating a white student at a high school.

She called the two events bookends that marked the progress made by the civil rights movement. "There has been a lot of forward movement, but there is such a long way to go," she said.

Clinton talked about efforts to ensure environmental justice, saying asthma, learning disabilities and birth defects caused by the environment affected minorities and the poor disproportionately. She nodded her head as a young woman from Texas talked about problems black college students faced getting on the voting rolls in 2004 and 2006 anf pledged to make it easier for people to vote.

Clinton said it was important to ensure everyone a living wage. "No one who works fulltime in our country should end up with income below the poverty line," she said, to applause. She also talked about the need to enforce gun laws and to provide better treatment for youth with mental health issues and she called the government's handling of Katrina an embarrassment.