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Oct 14, 8:57 AM EDT

Hillary Clinton: Don't saddle students with debt


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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Las Vegas crowd Monday night that more needs to be done to ensure young people can achieve their dreams and free students from onerous college debt "that can feel like an anchor tied to their feet dragging them down."

"I think our young people deserve a fair shot," she told about 900 people gathered in a Bellagio resort ballroom for the annual UNLV Foundation dinner benefiting the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Later, talking about the American public's possible reluctance to get involved in conflicts around the world, Clinton referred to the threats posed by the Ebola virus and the Islamic State militant group.

"They want to bring the fight to Europe and the fight to the United States," she said of the terrorist group.

And Ebola is not going to stay confined, the former first lady said.

"We can't say we're not going to be involved because these things are other people's problems," she said.

The remarks were part of questions from longtime friend and Las Vegas Sun Publisher Brian Greenspun after Clinton's prepared speech.

In her talk, she touched on her thoughts on Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, "I see a very cold-blooded, calculated former KGB agent who is determined to not only enrich himself and his closest colleagues but also to try to revive Russia's influence around its border."

She mentioned the most important person she's ever met - Nelson Mandela for his "level of self-awareness and political skill" - and her most difficult decision as secretary of State - "Whether or not to go after bin Laden based on the evidence we had."

Before the questions, Greenspun presented her with a gift: a pair of Nike athletic shoes, a reference to one of her last appearances in Las Vegas in April when a woman in the crowd threw a shoe at Clinton.

"How do we make amends?" he asked. By giving her two shoes instead of just the one.

Greenspun pointed out the pair came from the "running" shoes section, a coy reference to speculation surrounding a possible presidential run by Clinton.

She didn't give anything away about her future plans after Greenspun pressed a second time about any unfinished business she might have and how she would finish it, a reference to a chapter in her book, "Hard Choices."

"I'm really going to have to ponder that seriously," she said.

Before Monday's event, Clinton made a stop in Denver to campaign for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and later appeared at a Nevada Democratic Party fundraiser in Las Vegas with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Las Vegas Sun reported that VIP tickets to the fundraiser at the Aria resort cost $10,000 each.

The UNLV Foundation dinner honored billionaire Republican fundraiser and Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Clinton commended Adelson for his donations to the university. The casino-hotel mogul's Las Vegas Sands has committed $7 million to fund construction of Hospitality Hall for the university's Harrah Hotel College and a proposed Center for Professional and Leadership Studies.

The event also posthumously honored philanthropist Kitty Rodman, whose estate pledged $12.9 million for the university's special education programs.

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