The former secretary of state reflected on her time at the State Department, the U.S. relationship with Russia and the advice she gives to young women during her appearance at the annual Women in the World summit. But when the moderator asked her to address the nation's future, Clinton cited the need to "get back to evidence-based decision-making."
"There is just pure ideology, pure partisanship. We disguise a commercial interest behind a political facade and the result is that we're kind of marching backwards instead of forward," Clinton said. She said the U.S. needs to address economic hardships facing many young people to produce an "inclusive prosperity."
The potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate noted that "we have an election coming up this year. And we ought to be paying attention to that because that will set the parameters for a lot of what can and should be done."
Clinton spoke alongside International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde in a discussion moderated by journalist and best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman.
Asked about her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton compared it to a relay race. "You run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton," she said. "Some of what hasn't been finished may go on to be finished."
Some critics of Clinton have said her time at the State Department was marked by caution and failed to produce any major diplomatic victories - reasoning that any diplomatic breakthroughs by Secretary of State John Kerry on Iran, Mideast peace or other global crises might diminish her record.
Clinton said she was "very proud of the stabilization and the really solid leadership that the administration provided" that allowed the U.S. to address problems in Ukraine and other global hotspots. "I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense," she said.
Turning to Russia, Clinton said the U.S. and its European allies need to be both "smart and patient" in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin's bold annexation of Crimea. She said Putin was "motivated by the past" and trying to build up his political base at home by spurring nationalism and stopping Europe's influence in the region. "I really believe over the long run it's a losing strategy," she said.
Addressing hundreds of women, Clinton said there's a double-standard for how women are treated in the media and that she counsels young women to be resilient when they face challenges. "Believe me, this is hard-won advice," Clinton said to laughter.
Earlier in the day, Clinton helped announce a new campaign with the U.S. Agency for International Development that aims to harness science and technology to end extreme global poverty by 2030. USAID is undertaking the anti-poverty effort with 32 partners from private industry, colleges and universities, philanthropies and nongovernmental organizations.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said the campaign, called the U.S. Global Development Lab, will tackle issues such as the lack of clean water and access to education.
Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report.