(CNN) –- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the putative frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, delivered a paid speech Tuesday to a trade association that strongly opposed President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, the signature achievement of his time in office and a long-sought goal of progressive movement.
Clinton spoke to roughly 3,000 members of the National Association of Convenience Stores, which is holding its annual conference in Atlanta.
The trade group represents the U.S. convenience store industry, a $700 billion annual industry representing both large chains and small “mom and pop” operations, as well as their suppliers around the country.
Clinton has long championed universal health care coverage, and she made insurance mandates a central plank of her health care reform agenda during her ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign.
But the NACS, as the trade association is more commonly known, fought against the Affordable Care Act when it was being debated in Congress, and the group’s lobbying arm continues to oppose the employer insurance mandate, a provision the Obama administration has delayed until 2015.
In 2009, when the bill was still in draft form in the House and Senate, John Eichberger, a lobbyist for the group, wrote in the group’s magazine that “an employer mandate is a threat to the industry and all businesses.”
Around the same time, NACS circulated a document to its members outlining its opposition to many of the bill’s “onerous” requirements and regulations, titled “The Top 15 Reasons the ‘Affordable Health Care For America Act’ Increases Costs, Limits Choices and kills Competition.”
Today, after the Supreme Court upheld the law, the trade association’s opposition to Obamacare is more narrowly focused on changing the definition of “full-time employee” under the employer mandate to one who works 40 hours a week, rather than 30.
“NACS opposed the ACA, and is presently working both in the administration and in Congress to ensure the law’s implementation will impose minimal burdens on convenience store owners and operators,” an issue page on the group’s website reads.
Clinton has addressed a range of interest groups since leaving the State Department in February of this year, and her speech to the association here should not be read as an endorsement of the group’s policy positions.
But in taking money from a business coalition that actively fought one of the Democratic Party’s landmark policy achievements, Clinton is showcasing the sometimes-awkward politics of the lucrative “buck-raking” circuit, in which public figures cash in on their celebrity by delivering paid speeches to a variety of private organizations.
Clinton, represented by the Harry Walker Agency, reportedly earns around $200,000 per speech, appearances that are usually closed to the media. Audience members at the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday were banned from recording video or sound of the speech, which included a question and answer session.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Clinton spent 25 minutes recounting the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, specifically highlighting Vice President Joe Biden's opposition to the mission. Clinton, who could face off against Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2016, stressed that she backed the raid.
America Rising PAC, a Republican group tracking Clinton's every move, flagged the comments for reporters yesterday, circulating them in an email titled, "Shots Fired: Clinton Attacks Biden Over Bin Laden Raid."
In the past year, Clinton has given paid speeches to industry groups including the American Society of Travel Agents, the National Realtors Association, the National Auto Dealers Association, and to executives from two blue-chip private equity firms, the Caryle Group and KKR.
That’s in addition to other unpaid speeches to charities, universities and awards dinners.
She does not make her full speaking schedule public.
A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to a request for comment about her Atlanta appearance.
The convenience store group Clinton addressed Tuesday has also lobbied against other policy initiatives favored by many Democrats, including regulation of the tobacco industry and union-friendly “card check” legislation.
Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the trade association, said NACS takes positions for and against a wide variety of federal issues – energy, health care, credit card swipe fees and others - on behalf of convenience store owners.
Focusing solely on the group’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act would be unfair to Clinton, he said, noting that both Republicans and Democrats have addressed the group.
“About half of our population shops at our stores every day, and they are voters,” Lenard told CNN. “You are just talking to people who are part of the American conversation.”