Clinton beginning to shed low profile before likely 2016 bid

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton has so far kept a low profile this year, something that's starting to change as she heads toward her expected 2016 campaign for president.

Clinton was to speak Tuesday at a Silicon Valley women's conference, her first U.S. speech of the year. It opens a stretch of public appearances in the next month ahead of an all-but-certain launch of her bid for the Democratic nomination.

The former secretary of state has steered clear of the spotlight — her only two speeches in 2015 came in Canada last month — choosing instead to huddle with advisers as a large field of Republican presidential hopefuls compete for attention.

Clinton was speaking Tuesday at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women in Santa Clara, Calif., an appearance before 5,000 attendees that will include an on-stage interview with Kara Swisher, the co-executive editor of technology media company Re/code.

Clinton is likely to face questions about President Barack Obama's proposal to authorize the use of military force against Islamic State militants, the debate in Congress over immigration and funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and the future of the Keystone XL pipeline. Also possible: questions about privacy and the U.S. government's collection of phone records and digital communications of millions of people.

Clinton is scheduled to step up her public appearances in March, appearing at a gala for EMILY's List, which supports female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, an awards ceremony in Washington for political journalists and a United Nations meeting on women's rights.

Many Clinton supporters say she has little incentive to jump into the campaign now and is better off ceding the spotlight to the Republican presidential field. The extra time has allowed Clinton to consult widely with economists and begin formulating an agenda aimed at appealing to voters who have struggled with stagnant wages in an otherwise rebounding economy.

"I think that's the biggest thing in this campaign, which is making sure as the economy comes back, that everybody benefits from it," said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who served as Clinton's campaign chairman in 2008. "I think she'll be able to make that argument."