The former first lady, secretary of state and favored candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination offered a full-throated embrace of the populist rhetoric backed by the party’s progressive wing, citing the liberal legacy of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt and her husband, Bill Clinton. And she made clear that her potential to make history as the country’s first female president would be a major part of that liberal message. “I’ve been called many things by many people,” Clinton told the 5,550 cheering voters. “Quitter is not one of them.”
Her focus marked a sharp departure from her previous presidential bid, when Clinton was reluctant to dwell on her gender during until nearly the final moments of her campaign. After a months-long primary contest against President Barack Obama, she conceded defeat with an address that acknowledged the “18 million cracks” her bid put in the “that highest, hardest glass ceiling.” The path, she said then, “will be a little easier next time.”
“I may not be the youngest candidate in this race but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States and the first grandmother,” she said on Saturday.
Speaking on Roosevelt Island on Saturday, Clinton described her broad vision for her second presidential campaign – with a platform designed to appeal to the coalition of young and minority voters that twice boosted Obama to victory. “Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers,” she said. “You brought our country back now it’s time your time to secure the gains and move ahead.’
While she shied away from specific policy proposals, she laid out a wish list of Democratic policies to the cheering crowd. Over the course of her roughly 45 minute remarks, Clinton backed universal pre-K education, Wall Street regulation, paid sick leave, a path to citizenship for immigrants, equal pay, campaign finance reform, and banning discrimination against gay workers and their families.
Aides she plans to give a policy address almost every week during the summer and fall, detailing her positions on issues including college affordability, jobs and the economy. Clinton dedicated only a short section of her remarks to the foreign policy, vowing to “do whatever it takes to keep American safe.”
But unlike in the early Republican primary contest, where more than a dozen candidates often describe a nation under pressing threat from global terrorism, Clinton said she see an America far more secure in its global position. “I was in the situation room in the day we got bin Laden but I know we have to be smart as well as strong,” she said. “I believe the future holds far more opportunity than threats.”
While Clinton has been particularly vocal on immigration and other issues important to key parts of the Democratic base, she stayed silent on policy questions that have divided the party, including a current debate over trade. Her remarks come in the midst of a contentious debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal backed by Obama and opposed by organized labor, liberals and others who say such pacts cost the US jobs. Liberal activists and labor union organizers have been pushing Clinton to take a stronger position against the deal.
“This was mostly a typical Democratic speech — much better than the direction Republicans offer America, but not the bold economic vision that most Americans want and need,” said activist Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Clinton, meanwhile, cast the race as a choice about the economic future of the middle class, saying the Republican field is “singing the same old song.”
“They reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy,” she said. “What I once called a village that has a place for everyone. My values and lifetime of experience have given me a different vision for America.”