Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at Rhode Island Organizing Event
Hillary Clinton discussed her plans to raise incomes, fight for equal pay
for women, and break down the barriers that hold families back – a contrast
with Donald Trump’s belief that wages are too high – an organizing event in
Rhode Island on Saturday, April 23.
The transcript of Clinton’s remarks
«Wow. I am so happy to be here with all of you. Thank you so much. I
want to thank Helen Madonna (ph), who just was up here introducing Senator
Reed. She is the valedictorian there at the high school. And I am so
pleased that she could be here with us. I want to thank your fabulous
congressional delegation. I had the great honor and privilege of working
with them: Senator Jack Reed and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman
David Cicilline and Congressman Jim Langevin.And I think you know you’ve
got a great quartet in Washington representing this state. And I look
forward, if I’m so fortunate enough to be your president, to working
closely with them to really do everything we can for Rhode Island.
I want to thank your governor, Governor Gina Raimondo, who’s here. And I
know that your governor is going to need a president who is going to work
with you to bring jobs and raise incomes, just like (inaudible). And I
want to thank Mayor James Diossa from right here (inaudible). I’ll tell
you what, it’s great to see a young mayor with that kind of enthusiasm and
commitment. And I want to also thank Nellie Gorbea, the secretary of
state. And the Rhode Island Democratic chair, who I know is here
somewhere, Joe McNamara. Where’s Joe? Hey, Joe! Thank you.
Okay, everybody, I got to tell you, I am so happy to be back in Rhode
Island. I love this little state. I have so many friends here. I know
how resilient and hardworking the people in this state are. And I’m here to
tell you what I want to do as your president to make sure that everybody in
Rhode Island has the chance to get ahead and stay ahead – because we will
have more good jobs with rising incomes that will lift up people. And I
know we can do it. Now, how do I know we can do it? Because it wasn’t so
long ago that we did it.
And I know that my Republican opponents get upset when I say this, but it
does happen to be true: the economy does better when we have a Democrat in
the White House. And I kind of like what happened in the 1990s. It wasn’t
that long ago, but we had 23 million new jobs and incomes went up for
everybody. Not just people at the top, middle-class families, working
families, poor people – more people were lifted out of poverty in those
eight years than at any comparable time in decades. And then people say,
well, what happened? We were on the right track. The median family income
went up 17 percent. Some of us remember that. The median African American
income went up 33 percent.
Well, I’ll tell you what happened. A Republican President happened. And I
know because I was in the Senate arguing against, voting against the return
of trickle-down economics. Look what happened. They cut taxes on the
wealthy. They took their eyes off of the financial markets and the
mortgage markets. And we ended up in the worst financial crisis that had
faced this country since the Great Depression. And Rhode Island was
especially hard-hit, wasn’t it? In 2008, when Barack Obama was elected,
right after that election he called me, asked me to come to see him in
Chicago. I didn’t know why. It turned out he wanted me to be Secretary of
State. But before we got to that – (cheers and applause) – before we got
to that he just looked at me and he said, “It is so much worse than they
told us.” (Laughter.) And it was. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month.
Nine million Americans lost their jobs. Five million homes were lost. $13
trillion in family wealth was wiped out.
Now, why am I saying this? So we don’t forget that there is a direct
connection between the failed economic policies of the Republicans and what
happened to so many middle-income Americans.
Because they’re coming back – they’re coming back with the same snake oil.
That’s what Trump and Cruz are peddling. I think that’s the right
reaction. And I don’t think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for
digging us out of the ditch that the Republicans put our country into.
So we are standing but we’re not yet running the way we need to. And
here’s what I want to do. I want to get us back into the job creation
business. I want us to make many more investments in infrastructure – our
roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our ports, our airports, our water
systems. Those are jobs that can’t be exported. They have to be done right
here and they have to be done by people like the laborers and (inaudible)
and others of the trades. I have no doubt in my mind that if we don’t make
those kinds of investments in infrastructure, we’re not going to make as
many jobs and create as much economic growth as we’re capable of making.
I also want us to invest in advanced manufacturing. I still believe we can
make it in America, and we can compete because we have the best workers of
anywhere in the world.
And then we’re going to combat climate change by creating clean, renewable
And I want to see us go back to doing what works to build the American
middle class, and that includes supporting the American labor movement to
organize and bargain collectively. We cannot revive the American middle
class unless we do revive the American labor movement, because you are not
going to get the kind of fair wages and benefits that workers deserve if
they don’t have power at the negotiating table. I plan to use the bully
pulpit of the White House and the Department of Labor to enforce the labor
laws we already have on the books. We’re going to end wage theft, which is
a problem across America. We’re going to go after overtime problems where
people are not being paid fairly for the work they do. We are going to go
after raising the national minimum wage so people who work full-time are
not going to be left in poverty at the end of the year. And we are finally
going to get equal pay for women.
Now, (inaudible). Let me tell you that this is not just a women’s issue.
If you’ve got a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter who are working, it’s
a family issue. It’s an economic issue. And there is no women’s discount
when we go to pay, checking out at the supermarket, is there? I mean, I
know – I’ve shopped for a lot of years. And when I go check out, I don’t
have the cashier say, “Oh, you’re a white woman. You only have to pay –
what is it now – 78 cents on the dollar.” Or, “You’re an African American
woman, you only have to pay 65, 66 cents,” or, “You’re a Latino woman, you
only have to pay 55, 58 cents.” That has never happened to me.
And it is time we recognize this is a question of fundamental fairness, and
here is another element to it that I want you to think about. I was with
Lilly Ledbetter yesterday. And some of you know who she is. The Lilly
Ledbetter Pay Act is named for her, and here’s why. She went to work in a
factory in Alabama 40-plus years ago. And she was promoted. She became a
supervisor – the only woman among all the supervisors. She did not know
for all those years she was paid 40 percent less for doing exactly the same
job. Her family was cheated.
And you know what else that means? That means that when she retired her
Social Security payments were less than they should have been because she
was never paid what everybody else was paid. So this is the kind of issue
that we talk about raising incomes. This could raise incomes immediately.
Raising the minimum wage, guaranteed equal pay – that will help so many
families that are struggling right now.
So I have put forth a jobs program. It’s easy to diagnose the problems,
but you’ve got to come up with solutions for problems. It is not enough to
say what’s wrong. We can see that, but we’ve got to come together to fix
what’s wrong. And we’re going to do more to help small businesses, because
that’s where most of the new jobs will come from, and particularly minority
and women-owned small businesses that are growing (inaudible).
And I’ve got to tell you I am excited by what we can do. I know it’s hard
work and I know everything I’ve just told you the Republicans don’t agree
with. Donald Trump actually says wages are too high in American.
Honestly, I don’t know who he spends his time talking to, but I recommend
he get out of one of those towers and actually go down and talk to some
folks and (inaudible).
And we know there’s a connection between the jobs we can get and the
ladders of opportunity we can build by knocking down the barriers that
stand in the way and education. So here’s what I believe. I believe we’ve
got to, number one, have early childhood education to get more kids
prepared to be successful when they’re going to school.
Number two, we have to support our teachers and our educators who are
Number three, we need to get more technical education back into our
schools, our high schools, and our community colleges. We need more
apprenticeship programs like the ones the unions run so that more people
can have a chance to acquire the skills. We have 1.2 million jobs right
now in America today that pay 50-, 60-, 70,000 a year for tool and die
makers and welders and machinists, skilled tradespeople. We need to
convince more young people to go into those jobs if that’s exactly what
they want to do and the kind of life they want, and we need more training
programs. That’s why I want to incentivize more apprenticeships.
And we are going to make college affordable for everybody. Under my plan
you can go to a public college or university debt free. Now, I have a
difference with my esteemed opponent, who wants free college to everybody,
but I have to tell you I don’t want free college for people who can pay for
it like Donald Trump. I think we have to focus on where the need is, and
to meet our middle-class families and working families and poor families.
So we’re going to put the money where it’s most needed so that every young
person who wants to go to college will be able to afford (inaudible).
And then because they will be debt free they will come out debt free, so
now we’ve got to deal with the problem of everybody who has debt already.
We have 40 million Americans with student debt. Here’s what I want to do.
I want you to be able to refinance your student debt, just like a mortgage
or a car payment. So we’re going to get that debt down and off of the backs
of young people. We’re going to put a time certain when it’s over, and
we’re going to stop the government from making money lending money to young
people to go to college (inaudible).
I will also defend the Affordable Care Act because before there was
something called Obamacare there was something called Hillarycare. And
some of you remember my husband and I tried really hard to get a system for
affordable care. And the drug companies and the insurance companies beat
us. That’s just as plain as I can say it. I do have some experience in
dealing with special interest and powerful forces (inaudible).
So when they weren’t successful on that, I said okay, what are we going to
do now? And that’s when we went to work to create the Children’s Health
Insurance Program, which insures 8 million kids. So that’s when I was so
happy when the Affordable Care Act passed, because I know it is literally
saving people’s lives. There is not a week that goes by that somebody
doesn’t tell me what a difference it has made in their lives. The
Republicans want to repeal it. I will never let that happen. (Inaudible.)
I want to get the costs down, copays and deductibles and prescription drug
And I want to deal with two other problems – mental health and addiction.
When you travel as I have now for more than a year, there are a couple of
things that come up everywhere in the country that people talk to you
about. People talk to you about the economy, getting wages up. People
talk to you about student debt. And people talk to you about mental health
and addiction. We have got to do more to help people deal with mental
health issues and make sure insurance companies provide payment for those
services. And we have got to have more programs for treatment and recovery
in addiction, particularly with opioids and heroin.
Now, I want you to listen closely to the Republicans, because they are
telling you what they want to do in our country. And Trump keeps saying
things like well, I didn’t really mean it was all part of my reality TV
show running for president, we’ll be on your screen. Well, you know what?
If we buy that, shame on us. Because he’s already showed us what he
believes and he’s already said what he wants to do, and he wants to go
after every one of the rights we have.
So I want to tell you where I stand. I will defend a woman’s right to make
her own health care decisions. I will defend Planned Parenthood against
all of these attacks. I was honored to be endorsed by the Planned
Parenthood Action Fund, and they because I’ve been on the front lines of
this battle for a really long time.
I will defend – I will defend marriage equality and work to end
discrimination. We can’t let laws like those passed in North Carolina and
I will defend voting rights. And on the first day of my campaign I’ve said
I will do whatever I can to reverse and end Citizens United.
I will defend workers’ rights. I will defend Social Security against
privatization and work to increase the Social Security Trust Fund. I will
defend Medicare and I will defend the Veterans Administration from the
schemes that the Republicans are promoting. We have to make it work, but we
can’t let it be privatized.
I will keep working for comprehensive immigration reform (inaudible).
And I will continue to take on the gun lobby and fight for commonsense gun
(inaudible).There is no doubt in my mind that we can do this consistent
with the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Comprehensive background
checks, close the gun show loophole, close the online loophole, close
what’s called the Charleston loophole, and end the special protections
Congress voted for to give gun manufacturers and sellers special immunity
from accountability. If you have, as I have, met a lot of family members
who have lost loved one to gun violence, it’s no longer a statistic. We
lose on average 90 people a day, 33,000 people a year. If something else
were killing 33,000 Americans we would be organized and focused and working
to try to save lives. Well, we are going to save lives by moving towards
gun reform that will help us do that.
So when you think about who you vote for on Tuesday, the first test is: Can
this person produce results – jobs, education, health care, protecting our
rights? And the second is: Can this person be commander-in-chief and
protect America and (inaudible). And I have to really thank your senator,
Jack Reed, who understands as much about national security as anybody in
Congress and probably nearly anywhere else. I was deeply honored that he
endorsed me, that he has said what means the world to me, that I will keep
America safe, because I will spend every minute of every day making sure
that we do just that.
There’s a lot of work to do. I’ll just make two quick points here,
because, again, there’s a really big difference between where I am and
where the Republicans are. Foreign policy and national security can’t be
an afterthought, something you’ll get to sometime, because you never know
what’s going to happen. It can be on the very first day of your
administration, and it can be something that nobody had predicted. But
here’s what I want you to understand about Trump and Cruz, because it’s a
really significant difference. What they say about the world is not only
offensive, it’s dangerous. And in particular, when Donald Trump says bar
all Muslims from coming to our country that sends a message around the
world. We have to put together a coalition to defeat ISIS, and in that
coalition we need Muslim-majority nations. And I know something about
putting together coalitions, because I put together the coalition that
imposed sanctions on Iran and included China and Russia and brought Iran to
the negotiating table. So when I think about putting together that
coalition, I know it becomes harder if somebody running for president is
insulting the religion of some of the nations that we need in the coalition.
He also basically said it’s fine for countries, more countries, to have
nuclear weapons, and fine if we pull out of NATO. Loose cannons tend to
misfire, and what we have with him is the loosest of all cannons.
And then Ted Cruz talked about special police patrols patrolling
neighborhoods where America’s Muslims live. Now, how we would ever do that
I don’t think adds up, but the best response to that comes from the NYPD,
and I’ve worked closely with them after 9/11 because I was a senator on
that terrible day. And they know as much about keeping us safe and dealing
with the threats that we have to face as anybody in our country, because,
unfortunately, they’ve had to. And so when Cruz said that, the chief of
the department said, ‘Well, I don’t know how we would do that. We have a
thousand American Muslims in the NYPD.’ And Bill Bratton, the commissioner
of police, sort of summed it up by saying, ‘Ted Cruz doesn’t know what the
hell he’s talking about.’
Now, and finally the third test after we talk about who can get results,
who has the track record, who has the experience, who’s actually produced
positive changes in people’s lives, who can keep us safe; the third is who
can unify our country.
Well, that is, I hope, the right answer. Thank you for that. But I want
to say just a couple of things about this, because Sheldon Whitehouse, your
senator, wrote a wonderful book about American values. And if you look at
where we are in history, no country, no country, has been as successful in
governing ourselves, in making it possible for people to pursue their own
dreams. But you can’t take that for granted. We have work to do. We’ve
got to start listening to each other, respecting each other, let’s even say
being kind to each other again. We are going to have disagreements. That
comes with the territory of being Americans. We have different political
views. That’s fine. But we also have to solve our problems. So I want
you to know this. As First Lady and Senator and Secretary of State, I
worked with lots of Republicans, Republicans with whom I didn’t have a
whole lot in common, but it was the right thing to do to try to solve your
problems. And I will go anywhere, anytime, to meet with anybody to find
common ground, and I will also stand my ground so that we get to a point
where we make progress together. Your members of Congress and (inaudible)
senators, both David and Jim, they’re hardworking. They really try to make
a difference. Well, we need everybody to feel like we can do that again,
because at the end of the day we can’t create the opportunity I want to see
for every single American to live up to your own potential, and
particularly our children if we don’t – if we don’t have the kind of vision
and strategy and effort that’s going to lead us in the direction of the
future that I want for our country.
And so that is why I tell people here’s what I want to do, and I want you
to hold me accountable. I am not making promises I can’t keep. I am not
making statements that drive us further apart. Every time I do an
interview, the interviewer says, “Well, here’s what Donald Trump called you
today.” “Would you like to respond?” I say, “No, I don’t want to
respond.” I will respond to what he says about everybody else –
immigrants, women, Muslims, John McCain. Everybody else he’s insulted I
will respond on their behalf. But I’m interested in what we can do
together, not increasing his exposure on television.
So here’s what I’m asking you. Tuesday is a big day. Five states are
voting and I need your help on Tuesday. I need you to go to the polls and
bring everybody you can (inaudible). And I promise you this: If you will
go vote for me on Tuesday, I will stand up and fight for you through this
campaign all the way into the White House for every day that I am honored
to serve. Thank you, Rhode Island. God bless you.»