NEW YORK – Hillary Clinton kicked off the last leg in the Democratic presidential primaries ahead of the April 19 New York primary at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Wednesday.
“It is wonderful to be back in New York,” Mrs. Clinton said to loud applause. “New Yorkers took a chance on me, and I will never forget that. You have always had my back, and I have always tried to have yours. Now, once again, I am asking for your confidence and your vote.”
Clinton did not mention her Democratic primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, by name as she ticked off the boxes on the issues that appeal to her base. But she drew a clear contrast between Sanders and herself on domestic issues – “My opponent and I share many of the same goals, but some of his ideas won’t pass and the others just won’t work – and national security. “When you vote on April 19th in New York, you are voting for a president and a commander-in-chief,” Clinton stressed. “This isn’t a single-issue country. We need a president who can do all parts of the job. Our next president has to be just as passionate about defending our people and our country as about fixing our economy.”
In pivoting to the general election, Clinton also attacked Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for recent comments they made following the terror attacks in Brussels. “On the Republican side, what he are hearing is truly scary. When Donald Trump talks casually about using torture and allowing more countries to get nuclear weapons, or when Ted Cruz calls for treating American Muslims like criminals and racially profiling, that doesn’t make them sound strong. It makes them sound in over their heads,” she said. “Loose cannons tend to misfire. And in a dangerous world, that is not a gamble we can afford.”
The Democratic presidential front-runner was introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer, who shared his experience serving with her for eight years as the two representatives of the State of New York in the U.S. Senate. “Hillary Clinton delivers,” said Schumer. “She may not talk like we Brooklynites talks, but when she speaks, she changes minds and changes outcomes.”
Schumer’s reference to Brooklyn carried value as her campaign headquarters is based in Brooklyn, but also the hometown of her opponent.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Clinton’s chief strategist Joel Benenson said he expects Sanders to “campaign like a Brooklynite” in the New York primary, while Clinton will compete like a “senator.”
“I think he’s going to campaign like a Brooklynite, and she’s going to campaign like a senator who represented this state for eight years and has lived here for 16,” said Benenson. “And I think when voters hear the argument, it may make it competitive, but he’s not going to get to a number in New York that’s going to change the delegate count materially.”
While the line was interpreted as an insult to the Vermont Senator, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a supporter of Clinton told reporters, “I assume the phrase ‘campaigning like a Brooklynite’ is a compliment.” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement, “Any candidate for president—be it Hillary, Bernie, or otherwise—should be fortunate enough to have the grit and tenacity that defines a Brooklynite.”
During his 16-minute introduction, the senior senator from New York contrasted Clinton’s embrace of America’s diversity to the rhetoric coming out “from the other side.” According to Schumer, “Hillary Clinton knows you can walk from one side of 125th street to the other and meet people from every continent on the face of this earth. You can start your day with waffles and chicken from Sylvia’s .. and eat a bagel and a schmear in the middle for lunch.”