Clinton Campaigns In North Carolina In Wake Of Police Shooting

Oct 2, 2016
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spent much of the day in Charlotte, N.C. That's where Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police nearly two weeks ago. That shooting exposed tensions between Charlotte's black community and the police and brought days of protests. NPR's Asma Khalid is traveling with the Clinton campaign in Charlotte. Hi, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hi, Michel.

MARTIN: So tell us - why did Hillary Clinton decide to go to Charlotte today?

KHALID: Well, Michel, this is actually a trip she had planned for last weekend, but it got postponed. She wanted to come and show solidarity with the African-American community in the aftermath of that shooting you mentioned of Keith Lamont Scott, and city officials had asked her to wait.

So this morning she came. She joined the congregation at Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, and she began by specifically talking about Scott's death and said that this type of violence has happened far too frequently in the African-American community. You know, she talked about praying for peace when there is so much violence outside the church walls. And she tried to empathize with members of the congregation, show that she understands the fear and frustration in the black community. But, Michel, I think what was most interesting about all of her remarks today was that she had some real talk and a recognition of her own privilege. You know, she loves to talk about being a grandmother, and she did that here today, but in a different way.

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HILLARY CLINTON: I'm a grandmother and like every grandmother, I worry about the safety and security of my grandchildren, but my worries are not the same as black grandmothers.

MARTIN: So, Asma, how were her remarks received? I can hear a lot of people kind of expressing what seems to be kind of verbal assent that her remarks seemed to go over well.

KHALID: They did seem to go over really well. She got a number of applause lines when she spoke about the need to, you know, empathize and understand where some African-Americans are coming from and also about the need for police forces to perhaps de-escalate some tense situations.

MARTIN: So, Asma, since we are just really a couple of weeks out from the election, did Hillary Clinton talk politics in any explicit way?

KHALID: Yeah, you know, Michel, this was also, you know, no doubt a political message, and she did talk about President Obama and her desire to build on the work that he's done. She also explicitly told the congregation that in light of the protests the city has seen recently, that voting is a part of pushing for change.

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CLINTON: Not everyone can march, but everyone can talk. And everyone can reach out, and everyone can vote.

MARTIN: Now, Asma, the African-American vote has been seen as something of a firewall for Secretary Clinton around the country, but I would imagine that it is particularly critical in a state like North Carolina. Could you tell us more about that?

KHALID: It is. Black voters are key to Clinton's strategy here. About a quarter of the electorate is African-American, and those who vote are loyal Democrats. But there are some questions about black turnout this year, and, you know, black turnout was at record levels during the Obama years. And there are some questions about whether Hillary Clinton can match that. She was here today in part to empathize with the community because of the recent police shootings, but she was also here in part to solidify the Democratic base and ensuring that African-Americans here in North Carolina show up on Election Day.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Asma Khalid traveling with Hillary Clinton's campaign in Charlotte, N.C. Asma, thank you so much for speaking with us.

KHALID: You're welcome.

MARTIN: We'd like to remind you that NPR is your source for debate coverage throughout this election. We're following the candidates as they prepare for the vice presidential debate on Tuesday. Live coverage of the debate will air on many NPR stations along with live fact-checking at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.