Hillary Clinton appeals to working Americans in first big campaign rally: “it’s time”

Hillary Clinton Appeals to Working Americans in First Big Campaign Rally: “It’s Time”

Hillary Clinton Appeals to Working Americans in First Big Campaign Rally: “It’s Time”

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June 13 2015 1:28 PM

Hillary Clinton Appeals to Working Americans in First Big Campaign Rally: “It’s Time”

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers her “official launch speech” at a campaign kick-off rally in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City, June 13, 2015.

Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Hillary Clinton decided to go big on Saturday, trading the small, roundtable-style events that have marked her campaign for the presidency for a large rally on Roosevelt Island in New York, where she focused on her efforts to portray herself as the champion of the “everyday American.” In what was billed as her official campaign launch, Clinton called for a new era of shared prosperity, noting that it was part of the country’s core values. “It’s America’s basic bargain,” Clinton said. “If you do your part, you ought to be able to get ahead, and when everybody does their part, America gets ahead too.”

“You brought our country back, now it’s time, your time, to secure the gains and move ahead,” Clinton said. “And you know what? American can’t succeed unless you succeed. That is why I am running for president of the United States.”

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Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters on June 13, 2015.

Reuters/Carlo Allegri

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From the beginning of the address that Politico says “often felt more like a State of the Union address than a rousing campaign rally,” Clinton insisted on her message that she would defend the interest of the middle class, clearly trying to tap into frustration with the ultrawealthy by pointing out that the top 25 hedge fund managers make more than all of the country’s kindergarten teachers. “You have to wonder: When does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead? I say: now. That’s why I am running for president of United States.” On that note she vowed to rewrite the tax code to reward hard work and not Wall Street. She also said that if necessary she would be willing to back a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that lifted limits on campaign funding.

The former secretary of state also got personal. Clinton framed much of her speech around her personal story, talking at length about her mother. All the talk of her family “is part of an attempted rebranding of Clinton’s abiding image as an efficient, and sometimes chilly, policy wonk,” notes the Washington Post. She received huge applause when she directly tackled those who question her age by saying she may not be the youngest candidate in the race but “I will be the youngest woman president in the history of this country, and the first grandmother as well.” And she ended by saying she wishes her mother was still alive to meet her granddaughter, Charlotte, adding that she wants a country “where a father tells his daughter, you can be anything you want to be, even a president of United States of America.”

After she was done speaking, Clinton mingled with a few supporters, as did her husband, to take photographs. Chelsea was also at the rally, marking the first time the family has been seen in public together since Clinton launched her campaign in April. After the speech, Clinton plans to return to early-voting states “with events focused on her relationship with her mother and her father’s background as a veteran and small businessman,” notes the Associated Press.

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Hillary Clinton is embraced by her husband former President Bill Clinton after she delivered her speech at Roosevelt Island in New York City on June 13, 2015.

Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.