Hillary Clinton: Racism played a role in Flint's water-poisoning crisis
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to 'Hardball' host Chris Matthews on Jan. 5, 2016. (MSNBC)

In an appearance on Sunday in Iowa, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said that the ongoing lead contamination of city water in Flint, Michigan is "a civil rights issue."

According to Bloomberg Politics, Clinton said she views the negligence leading to the lead poisoning as "not just as an environmental disaster and a health crisis," but that "(t)his is a civil rights issue."

"If it had been a rich white suburb where the water was brown and smelly, people would have come immediately to the rescue of those families," the former Secretary of State said.

Michigan's Tea Party Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has come under intense criticism for his administration's decision to use the Flint River as a main source for Flint's water, which has caused the city's outdated plumbing to leach lead into the water.

Residents of the largely black and working class city complained that their water was contaminated, but complaints were ignored by the Snyder administration, prompting accusations of environmental racism. Now several children have been sickened and are facing lifelong neurological damage from absorbing lead into their systems.

Clinton took some credit for making Flint's water crisis into a national issue.

"I started talking about it and pointing it out, and created some additional political pressure," she said. When Clinton called Snyder's inaction and refusal of federal aid "outrageous," the conservative governor reportedly at last asked the Obama administration for help, she said.

"Within two hours," she told the mostly-black audience, "he made that request."