From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
DERRY, NH -- Clinton answered questions from voters at a town hall at the opera house here, which was her second stop on a two-day swing through the state.
The first question from the audience after Clinton's speech came from a woman who challenged her plan to pay for universal retirement accounts by freezing the estate tax at 2009 levels. The woman said the money from inheritance had already been taxed when it was earned and she felt taxing it again was the wrong way to fund Clinton's plan.
"People disagree about this, but the estate tax, which came into being by Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and others, and has been part of our tax system for a very long time is there for a real simple reason: In America, we've never liked the idea of massive inherited wealth," Clinton replied. "Part of the reason why America has always remained a meritocracy where you have to work for what you get, where you have to get out there, make your case to people, come up with a good idea, is that we never had a class of people sitting on generation after generation after generation of huge inherited wealth."
Clinton said people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were against doing away with the estate tax, because they made it on their own. She went on to explain, to applause, that a married couple could have an estate worth up to $7 million before getting taxed, and said she considered that a "pretty healthy estate to leave to your children."
Other audience members asked about outsourcing of jobs, how to deal with the issue of addiction and illegal drugs coming in from countries like Afghanistan, and what she would do to address disorders like Asperger's syndrome, which is part of the autism spectrum of disorders. Clinton responded that companies that outsource jobs should not get tax breaks; that America needs a comprehensive plan to deal with both demand for drugs at home and the supply abroad; and that she wanted to be the president to put autism on the map and help families dealing with it.
Clinton began a somewhat shorter version of her usual stump speech at the opera house by promising not to sing; she joked that would send everyone running for the door. She ended with the kind of direct appeal she made to Iowa voters over the weekend and during her "Middle Class Express" bus tour earlier this week. "I hope you'll join me. I'm asking you to support my campaign," she said, adding that she would keep coming back to New Hampshire to work hard to earn their support.
Lynn Evans, a stay-at-home mom from nearby Bedford, said she it was her first time coming to a town hall like this one and that she was impressed by Clinton. "We need someone like her to turn us around," in this country, she said. A registered independent, Evans said she had often voted for Democrats and planned to vote for Clinton in the primary. She also said she hoped to make it to more town halls.