Hillary Clinton vowed to make herstory in the first major campaign event of her 2016 campaign to be the Democratic standard bearer and president of the United States.
With Manhattan as her backdrop and One World Trade soaring in the distance, the former First Lady and Secretary of State took on her critics, on the right, and the left, in Saturday’s rally in front of thousands on Roosevelt Island.
She made clear to the liberal base of the Democratic party that she will be their champion, using the words that the progressive wing wanted to hear, like income inequality, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, and inclusiveness on all levels.
THE AGE QUESTION
Some of Clinton’s best lines in her speech in Four Freedoms Park, which is dedicated to New Deal President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, came when she took on mumbling that, at 67, she’s too much yesterday and not enough tomorrow.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, 52, among several Dems challenging her for the nomination, has implicitly raise the age issue by declaring its time for a new generation of leaders.
Clinton fired back at that notion with humor and what has become a basic part of her stump speech.
“You know, I know how hard this job is. I’ve seen it up close and personal. All our Presidents come into office looking so vigorous. And then we watch their hair grow grayer and grayer,” she said to laughter.
“Well, 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 as well.
“And one additional advantage: You won’t see my hair turn white in the White House. I’ve been coloring it for years!”
Clinton, it should be noted, wore all blue. You know as in blue states (Dems). Not a spot of red (the Gop electoral map color).
HILLARY ON LGBT AMERICANS
It was an extraordinary hand out to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Not once, not twice, but in three different points in her speech, she mentioned the LGBT community:
- GAY MARRIAGE: “They (Republican) want to put immigrants, who work hard and pay taxes, at risk of deportation. And they turn their backs on gay people who love each other. Fundamentally, they reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy. It takes an inclusive society. What I once called “a village” that has a place for everyone.”
- WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION: ” There are public officials who know Americans need a better deal. Business leaders who want higher pay for employees, equal pay for women and no discrimination against the LGBT community either.”
- DEFINITION OF FAMILY: “W e should ban discrimination against LGBT Americans and their families so they can live, learn, marry, and work just like everybody else.”
HILLARY ATTACK ON GOP
Clinton echoed Frandlin Delano Roosevelt (there’s a reason she chose Roosevelt Island) and co-opted one of the most popular songs in music history to lambast the Republican party — The Beatles “Yesterday,” written by Paul McCartney.
She accused them of being wrong, and backwards, on multiple issues, beyond LGBT-ers, and set herself up as the one who will fight for all families.
In praising the economic success of here husband Bill Clinton’s administration and in crediting President Barack Obama with saving America from the “Great Recession,” she took aim at U.S. economic disparity and vowed to spell out her major proposals, including rewriting the tax code, in the coming weeks.
“We all know we’re not yet running the way America should. You see corporations making record profits, with CEOs making record pay, but your paychecks have barely budge,” she said.
“While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top 25 hedge fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined. And, often paying a lower tax rate.
“So, you have to wonder: ‘When does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead?’
“When? I say now. Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers. Democracy can’t be just for billionaires and corporations.”
She continued: “Now, there may be some new voices in the presidential Republican choir, but they’re all singing the same old song. A song called ‘Yesterday.'”
“You know the one — all our troubles look as though they’re here to stay and we need a place to hide away… They believe in yesterday.”
She then quipped: ” You’re lucky I didn’t try singing that, too, I’ll tell you!” to rolling laughter,
BILL DE BLASIO MIA
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn’t there but she talked about several issues that he has embraced besides fixing the chasm between rich and poor. Issues like the right to earn paid sick days, universal kindergarten, tuition assistance, and paid family leave.
De Blasio has been very open about pulling Democrats to the left. Clinton’s campain still insist that everything between the candidate and the de Blasio, who ran her Senate campaign in 2000, is hunky-dory.
Her campaign manager just the night before brushed off questions about de Blasio being MIA, saying the mayor was “busy.” Clinton’s supporters are furious.
“He has got a lot going on running New York City,” Robby Mook said at aPolitico paneltalk Friday night.. “He’s busy with that. He’s been a strong advocate on a lot of issues, that’s great. We all have the same goal here and that is to get this deck unstacked against the middle class.”
“Bill de Blasio is a very good friend,” Mook insisted.
De Blasio was in Brooklyn with Police Commissioner Bill BrattonBrooklyn for the renaming of a street was for slain NYPD Detective Wenjian Liu.
Liu and Officer Rafael Ramoswere fatally shot by a gunman bent on killing cops on Dec. 20 as they sat in their squad car.
Hillary Clinton is now hitting the road, heading to Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina.
John A. Oswald is editor-at-large of Metro.US. Follow him on twitter @nyc_oz.