Hillary Clinton Courts Working Class Voters In New York

Apr 1, 2016
Originally published on April 1, 2016 7:46 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

To get a sense of the tension in the Democratic race for president right now, we're going to New York. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been campaigning all across the state this week. The Democratic primary is April 19. As NPR's Sam Sanders reports, Clinton is working hard to get the attention of blue-collar workers, a group that's been listening closely to Bernie Sanders.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Hillary Clinton held a small-business roundtable in Syracuse, N.Y., Friday. She talked about her record of helping small businesses throughout the state during her time as senator.

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HILLARY CLINTON: I wanted to take what we did here in New York nationwide.

SANDERS: Business owner after business owner talked about how Clinton helped them when she was a senator - the company that retrofitted school buses, the injection molding business that made infant healthcare products. There was even a woman in the room who said Clinton helped her start a wine ice cream company. Yep, that's what I said - a wine ice cream company.

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H. CLINTON: I'm looking forward to seeing wine ice cream in even more places. And if I'm so fortunate as to be elected president, it will be served in the White House, too.

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SANDERS: Besides talking wine ice cream, Clinton also announced a new program to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

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H. CLINTON: If elected president, I'll invest $10 billion in a program I'm calling Make it in America. And that would be partnerships across the country doing what we did here in New York, bringing together universities, businesses, local state...

SANDERS: It's all part of Clinton's big push to attract middle-class voters. Bernie Sanders has found a lot of support among the working class. And he's been hitting Clinton hard, saying she's tied too closely to Wall Street. In Harlem on Wednesday, Clinton touched on lots of themes Sanders does on the trail.

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H. CLINTON: We can create more good jobs with rising incomes by investing in manufacturing and small business and infrastructure and clean energy. We'll make companies that ship jobs overseas give back the tax breaks they got here at home. Isn't it time for raising the minimum wage nationwide?

SANDERS: And Clinton said she's the one that can get all of this done.

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H. CLINTON: Now, my opponent and I share many of the same goals, but some of his ideas for how to get there won't pass. Others just won't work because the numbers don't add up.

SANDERS: Hillary Clinton has not been making this case on her own. Bill Clinton spoke with union workers in Manhattan this week and said his wife has been fighting for New Yorkers for years.

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BILL CLINTON: Go to Buffalo or Rochester or Syracuse or any of those places - they all got a story of when she had their back, when she just made something good happen. It's what she's been doing all her life. There's a big difference in talking and doing.

SANDERS: Afterwards, I spoke with Kathy Begley. She works as an administrative assistant for the Service Employees International Union. They hosted the event.

Do you think that Hillary Clinton is for the working class?

KATHY BEGLEY: Yes, I do.

SANDERS: More than Bernie Sanders?

BEGLEY: That's difficult.

SANDERS: Begley went on to say that she thinks both of the candidates have their hearts in the right place, but that Clinton has a track record to prove it. The question is whether enough New Yorkers will feel the same way. Sam Sanders, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.