Stronger Together is rallying cry for Clinton, Democrats
PHILADELPHIA >> America is again at a "moment of reckoning," Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Thursday night, making a plea for the country to "work together so we can all rise together."
The former secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York and first lady became the nation's first female candidate to accept a major political party's presidential nomination in a roughly 58-minute address at the Democratic National Convention.
"When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit," she said in a nod to the historic moment.
Clinton opened her speech with a sobering description of a country threatened by powerful forces intent on tearing it apart and suggested that long-standing bonds of trust and respect are beginning to fray.
But in a clear attempt to provide a contrast with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has cited his business acumen as evidence of a personal ability to solve difficult problems, Clinton touted the nation's collective ability to overcome.
"Don't believe anyone who says I alone can fix it," Clinton said, referencing Trump's comments in his own nominating speech one week earlier. "...Americans don't say I alone can fix it. They say we'll fix it together."
Clinton accused Trump of wanting citizens to "fear the future and fear the country" and criticized several of his top policies.
"We'll build a path to citizen ship for millions of Americans who are already contributing," she said. "We will not ban a religion. We will work with all Americans and our allies to fight and defeat terrorism."
She used the speech to reintroduce herself to the voting public and made reference to the Flint water contamination crisis she highlighted in the Michigan primary campaign.
"It's true, I sweat the details of the policies we're talking about, the exact levels of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa or the cost of your prescription drugs," she said.
As president, Clinton said her primary mission from day one would be to create more jobs with rising wages, "especially in places that for too long have been left out and left behind."
She said she would make "the biggest investment in new, good paying jobs since World War II," referencing her five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan.
In March, Clinton unveiled her "new bargain" for higher-paying jobs plan at a manufacturing plant in Detroit. Among her proposals was a "clawback" to rescind tax relief and other incentives from companies that move jobs overseas.
At the time, she also advocated for a $12 an hour federal minimum wage, up from the current rate of $7.25, but has said she would sign a $15-an-hour bill if it came to her desk as president. The Democratic Party platform advocates a $15 hourly wage that was part of the campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who narrowly defeated Clinton in Michigan but lost the nomination.
On education, Clinton said she and Sanders would work together to "make college free for the middle class," referencing her plan to provide tuition-free access to higher education for students whose families make less than $125,000 a year, a more modest version of Sanders original plan to make college free for all.
To pay for the costly proposals, Clinton said Wall Street, corporations and "the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share." She has previously said she would fund her infrastructure plan through "business tax reform."
Clinton also addressed national security issues, an issue that Republicans have criticized as receiving scant attention at the four-day Democratic convention.
The former secretary of state noted "threats and turbulence" in worn-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, along with recent terrorism in places like Nice, Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, California, and Orlando.
"We're dealing with determined enemies that must be defeated," she said. "No wonder people are anxious and looking for reassurance – looking for steady leadership."
Clinton pledged to stand by North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies against Russian threats, an arrangement Trump has recently criticized. She also said she would defeat ISIS with airstrikes, support for local ground force and a "surge" in counter-terrorism intelligence -- a strategy that is similar to President Barack Obama's.
"We will prevail," Clinton said.
Clinton, who has raised considerable sums through super political action committees, said she would appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices who would help get "dark money" out of political elections and would consider pursuing a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, a 2010 ruling that opened the door to more outside spending by corporations and unions on campaigns.
"I believe America thrives when the middle class thrives," she said. "I believe our economy isn't working the way it should because our democracy isn't working the way it should."
Michigan supporters here for the nominating convention have pointed to Clinton's experience in various roles in federal government as one of her biggest selling points.
"We need somebody who is thoughtful and has the right mindset to be in control of dispatching our nation and our youth to war," said state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit. "What I've heard from her opponent is preposterous. We need somebody who unites us and brings us together."
In response to Clinton's speech, the Michigan Republican Party said she has repeatedly proven that she is not fit to lead.
"Our country cannot afford her economic policies," state GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a statement. "The world cannot afford her foreign policy. Americans cannot afford her complete disregard for the Constitution. She is untrustworthy, unfit to be commander-in-chief, and unprepared to provide the real solutions our nation so desperately needs."
But Sami Khaldi, an engineer from Dearborn who supports Clinton, called the speech inspiring as she addressed education, women's rights and job creation.
"She touched on everything," Khaldi said. "Now she has to take it on the campaign trail."
Ali Almaklani, another Dearborn delegate and a Ford Motor Co. retiree, wished Clinton would have talked more about immigration. Still, he thought it was "a helluva speech."
"Our country is strong because we are a nation of immigrants," he said.
Jonathan Oosting can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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