PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed in on a proposed Oregon constitutional amendment that would require equal rights for women, saying Tuesday "it would be nice to be in the constitution."
Speaking in Portland, the former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state said a debate in Oregon about equal rights might spread beyond the state's borders.
"Some people say, 'It's only symbolic,'" Clinton said. "Well, yes, but symbolism is important."
Outside, petition circulators collected signatures to place the measure on the 2014 ballot as people waited to enter the Keller Auditorium before Clinton's speech.
Clinton, a potential 2016 Democratic candidate for president, spoke as part of the World Affairs Council of Oregon's international speaker series featuring women changing the world. She's on a three-state Western speaking tour that began earlier Tuesday in San Francisco.
Empowering women, Clinton said, isn't only moral and just but also an economic imperative. But she also said the United States and the rest of the developed world need to improve as well, pointing to the gap between wages for women and men.
"It's crucial that we think hard about how to advance the rights and opportunities for women and girls, the unfinished business here at home and around the world," Clinton said.
Clinton highlighted Oregon's strong trade ties with Asia and Mandarin classes offered in some schools.
"You are on track here in this state and this city to take full advantage of a 21st century economy," she said. "And to help make sure that the United States remains a strong presence and a power in the Pacific."