Hillary Clinton called her race against Donald Trump the highest-stakes U.S. presidential race in her lifetime as she rallied with her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, for the first time as the Democratic nominees for president and vice president.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that every election in our democracy is important in its own way,” Clinton told a crowd at Temple University in Philadelphia the morning after accepting her party’s nomination. “But I can’t think of an election that is more important, certainly in my lifetime. It’s not so much that I’m on the ticket. It’s because of the stark choice that is posed to America in this election.”
Clinton and Kaine were kicking off a three-day bus tour in Pennsylvania and Ohio infused with a message about the economy and jobs.
Giddy and sleep-deprived, Clinton, 68, said she’d been up late celebrating because “it was just hard to go to sleep! It was so exciting. But it was also kind of overwhelming. I take deeply and with great humility the responsibility this campaign imposes on us.”
“As of tomorrow we have 100 days to make our case to America,” she said, sharing the stage with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, Kaine, and his wife, Anne Holton, former Virginia secretary of education.
Kaine told the crowd, “I’m so glad to be on this ticket. It’s a history-making ticket.”
The bus tour runs through two of the biggest battleground states, and through Rust Belt cities that may prove some of the most difficult terrain for Clinton in her race against Republican Donald Trump.
Before Clinton took the stage, organizers blasted Sheryl Crow’s “Woman in the White House” in recognition of her achievement as the first woman to win a major U.S. party’s presidential nomination.
The tour will focus on an economic message, including Clinton’s pledge to make the largest job-creating investment since World War II within her first 100 days in office, and highlighting Trump’s record of outsourcing manufacturing for ties, clothing, and furniture that carries his name. The message is aimed at voters in western Pennsylvania and eastern and central Ohio, where Trump is seeking to sway blue-collar Democrats.
“He doesn’t make a thing in America except bankruptcies,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s bus tour includes a factory stop at toy manufacturer K’NEX in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, whose product line includes engineering sets targeted at girls.
As a general-election candidate, Clinton is still confronting lingering resentments within the Democratic Party among supporters of her primary rival Bernie Sanders.
Voters in both parties say they are mistrustful of Clinton over controversies in her public life, including the investigation into her use of a private e-mail system while she served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
Although no Republican presidential candidate has won Pennsylvania since 1988, some Democrats are concerned Clinton may be vulnerable. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said Trump has the potential to carry the state by attracting angry, traditionally Democratic voters who have been displaced from manufacturing jobs –- although he said Clinton could offset such losses with gains in the suburbs and among independents in the state who may be turned off by Trump.
Rendell, speaking Thursday at a Bloomberg breakfast event, said voter-registration changes suggest Trump has “already made inroads” in Pennsylvania. He added that Trump’s vow to voters that he can bring back their old jobs is unrealistic. Rendell said technology, not international trade, has been the the driving factor for economic changes.
Clinton surrogates including Obama can help turnout voters in cities, while Kaine and Vice President Joe Biden, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, may help Clinton with working-class voters, Rendell said.
At Friday’s rally, Kaine gave a shout-out to his parents, a retired ironworker and teacher in their 80s, and to fellow Catholics. “I bet there were a lot of ’Pope Francis Catholics’ here before there was a Pope Francis,” Kaine said to applause. He asked if there were any Irish-Americans in the crowd, noting that an Irish friend of his parents had flown in to congratulate him.
‘Twisted and Negative’
Kaine contrasted the optimism of Democrats’ convention with the Republicans’ darker gathering in Cleveland a week earlier, saying it was “a twisted and negative tour” and a “journey through Donald Trump’s mind -- and that is a very frightening place.”
Clinton on Thursday criticized Trump for offering almost no specific plans for governing in his own acceptance speech –- though the Democratic policy wonk also set forth few details in her own remarks.
She laid out a list of domestic goals, including to make college more affordable, ease the burden of student loan debt, increase infrastructure investments, overhaul immigration laws, expand health-care coverage, and close tax loopholes. She also pledged to defeat Islamic State extremists and boost America’s standing with world allies.
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