Clinton Comes to Fishtown: The Former Secretary of State Stumps at the Fillmore Following NY Primary Victory
The Pennsylvania primary is less than a week away, so on April 20, Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton made a campaign stop at The Fillmore in Fishtown. Clinton was coming off a victory in the New York primary, a victory that has many questioning Democratic rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ path to the nomination.
Clinton has been subject to a barrage of attacks from Sen. Sanders regarding her record of campaign fundraising, including her relationships with Wall Street and those in the financial sector. The former Secretary of State is also beginning to see attacks from the right wing of the American political spectrum, including the GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who recently gave Clinton the moniker of “Crooked Hillary.”
Spirit News spoke to people at the event who were fervent in their support for Clinton and the issues of her campaign.
“I was just so excited to hear her for the first time live, she brought me to tears three times,” Melissa Metelits said, a supporter in her early 20s. ”I mean what she said about energy jobs, equal pay and support for women’s rights got me so excited about the election, as opposed to other politicians who are speaking against all that.”
The crowd was warmed up by Sen. Bob Casey and then Malcolm Kenyatta, Member Engagement Coordinator of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Clinton stood on a platform surrounded by onlookers below with others standing on bleachers erected on the Fillmore stage.
Clinton began her speech by reminding the audience which party she believes will grow the economy.
“Our economy always does better when we have a democrat in the White House,” Clinton said. “We’ve got some real good examples of that. You don’t have to go back to ancient history. You can go back to the 1990s. 23 million new jobs. Income rose for everyone.”
Clinton went further and commended President Obama for his efforts on fixing the economy, much to the pleasure of the boisterous audience. “I don’t think President Obama gets the credit for digging us out of the ditch the Republicans put us into,” Clinton said.
She also touched on making college affordable to every American and briefly spoke on people burdened by student debt. “We’re going to pay down the debt of everybody who currently has student debt,” Clinton Said. She did not elaborate on this plan.
The cheering crowd slowly quieted as Clinton began speaking about her Republican rivals. “I want you to pay close attention to them because they are telling you what they want to do to the country,” Clinton said in an increasingly ominous tone. “They want to turn the clock back on every right we have. They don’t want to deal with a lot of issues that I know are important.”
Clinton also outlined her stances on supporting a woman’s right to choose, as well as support for Planned Parenthood, marriage equality, LGBTQ rights, comprehensive immigration reform, along with maintaining and expanding social security. The former New York Senator also laid out her clear opposition to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and the increasingly systemic issue of mass incarceration, that displays a bias toward minorities and the poor.
She also hammered on one issue that is particularly important to neighborhoods like Kensington — gun violence.
“If there were a disease killing 33,000 people in America every year, we would figure out what to do about it,” Clinton said. “What is really sad about it is that we can do this consistent with the 2nd amendment, it’s the gun lobby that tries to keep gun owners all anxious and upset because what’s their goal? Their goal is to help sell even more guns to people.”
Clinton said that she was aware that Philadelphia needs help with it’s epidemic of gun violence. “I read the news before I got here today. You had 12 shootings in Philadelphia over the weekend. Four people killed, a police officer shot. The story that was so heartbreaking… Was the father, handling his gun,” Clinton said before choking up, “and it went off and killed his four year-old daughter. We have work to do to save lives.”
The issue of heroin and opioid addiction was also discussed. “We are losing way too many people to heroin overdoses, too many opioid addictions,” Clinton said. “It’s time we said we need enough treatment and recovery and intervention and support so that we save lives and we treat addiction like the health problem that it is.”
Spirit News spoke with Sen. Bob Casey after the event concluded. We asked him why he feels so strongly that Hillary Clinton will aide neighborhoods like Kensington with issues like gun violence and opiate addiction.
“She’s had a lot of experience working on issues like gun violence and she’s had to work in the context of not just diagnosing, but getting solutions to those problems,” Sen. Casey said. “If you talk to some Republicans that have had to work across the table from her and negotiate to find that common ground, they’ll’ tell you she wants to find common ground on very tough issues”
“I know that sometimes the work of Washington can seem very distant from those challenges you face in the neighborhood, but to the extent that a president can have an impact, she’s the one.”
Sen. Casey says he will work with Hillary Clinton to end the heroin epidemic in Philadelphia and across America, but he blames Republican lawmakers for slowing the process.
“We’ve worked on it from the perspective of getting new legislation passed to empower local communities. What hasn’t happened yet is we haven’t been able to convince Republicans to give 600 million dollars to get to local communities,” Sen. Casey said. “Law enforcement is asking for it, the treatment professionals are asking for it. We know that good treatment works. They’ve got to help us with the money.”
Other key issues further away from home were stressed by the former Secretary of State, who on a number of occasions cited her foreign policy experience in the increasing volatile realm of global affair.
“When you vote for a president next Tuesday you are also voting for a Commander and Chief, you are voting for who can connect Americans and lead the the world with our friends and allies,” Clinton said. “It’s really important that you take that into consideration and I have to tell you that as somebody who was your secretary of state. So when I hear Donald Trump and Ted Cruz talk about international issues it’s not only offensive, it’s downright dangerous.”
But in spite of (or because of) some of her experience, criticism of the former Secretary’s foreign policy credentials were ramping up this week. Clinton has long-supported and allowed arms sales to the government of Saudi Arabia — a government who continues to display its track-record as habitual human rights offender.
According to a report by Mother Jones, “In 2011, the State Department cleared an enormous arms deal: Led by Boeing, a consortium of American defense contractors would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns over the kingdom’s troublesome human rights record.”
The report continued by claiming that a conflict of interest could be at play:
“In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, Saudi Arabia had contributed $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, and just two months before the jet deal was finalized, Boeing donated $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to an International Business Times Investigation released Tuesday.”
The issue of continued arms sales to Riyadh came into clear focus this week while Presdent Obama was in Saudi Arabia for a meeting with the country’s leader, King Salman, and other members of Gulf Cooperation Council to coordinate better on conflicts across the region.
With the former Secretary of State’s big win in New York and with a win seeming likely in Pennsylvania, it was clear during her speech at The Fillmore that Clinton was attempting bridge the divide between her supporters and those of Bernie Sanders.
Clinton’s supporters concur with their candidate of choice and believe that the time is now for Pennsylvania and the rest of the country to unify around Clinton, even if policy disputes still persist within the party.
“Every primary season gets a little bit heated, I mean I was for Hillary back when she was up against Obama in the primaries,” Dustin Blair, a Clinton supporter in his 20s, said. “But once Obama won, Hillary just showed her support for him and encouraged everyone to support his campaign, so hopefully Bernie does the same thing.”
However, many Sanders supports remain indignant in their desire to go “Bernie or Bust” and not vote for Clinton, even if faced with a Republican like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz on the other side of a general election. Clinton supports looking ahead to the general have their own message for Sanders’ supporters.
“We live in a very complicated country with a lot of different groups of people. I think it’s very hard not to say something that will conflict with somebody’s views, feelings and so forth,” Charlie Isaacs, a Clinton supporter in his early 20s, said. “But you want is someone that can bring those different groups to the table, and take a firm stand when one group is doing something wrong but also find a way for everyone to prosper. That is what I think you hear in Hillary Clinton.”