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Hillary Clinton knocks Joni Ernst

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at an event to support Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, left, in his senatorial race, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

AP Photo/Matthew Holst

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have finished in third place at the 2008 Iowa caucuses, but she didn't let that stop her from criticizing the campaign strategy of Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst.

"I have concluded that Iowans take politics really serious," Clinton during a campaign trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to stump for the Democratic candidate, Rep. Bruce Braley, according to Bloomberg Politics. "You test your candidates. You actually force them to be the best they can be."

"They have to be willing to answer the tough questions, which Bruce has been willing to do and his opponent has not," Clinton added. "It truly seems like it should be disqualifying in Iowa of all states to avoid answering questions."

She was referring to Ernst's decision to cancel her interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board the day before a scheduled meeting. Her spokesman, Gretchen Hamel, blamed the paper's recent editorials, which she said espoused a position "many voters across our state seem to disagree with."

Clinton brought it up again later that night in Davenport, saying, "Not in Iowa do people get away with not answering questions."

"Except," she added, "questions that are far in the future," prompting laughter from the audience.

It was Clinton's second trip to the state since the loss in the 2008 caucus that helped derail her presidential candidacy. At an appearance at the 37th-and-final Harkin Steak Fry in September, she dodged a question of her own: whether or not she is running for president.

"I'm here for the steak," she said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.