By Brenda Flanagan
“I am really happy to be back in Camden county,” stated Hillary Clinton.
A raucous crowd of more than 1,000 supporters jammed the Camden County College gym and roared a welcome for Hillary Clinton at her first New Jersey rally as a presidential primary candidate. The Democratic focused on bread-and-butter issues like raising the national minimum wage and on her progressive agenda.
“I will defend a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, I will defend Planned Parenthood against these really partisan attacks, I will defend marriage equality and work to end discrimination against the LGBT community, I will work to defend voter rights and to end Citizens United,” she said.
Clinton never once mentioned primary rival Bernie Sanders — who dropped by New Jersey earlier this week for a couple of his own big campaign rallies — and won yesterday’s West Virginia primary. Instead, she slammed Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive candidate, in the state whose governor now leads Trump’s transition team. She called Trump “reckless”, a “loose cannon”.
“I find the divisive rhetoric, the hateful rhetoric, the finger pointing, the scapegoating of people, the inciting of violence among Americans to be totally wrong. It has no place in our politics. We can disagree. Of course we can,” she said.
Clinton maintains a big lead in the overall delegate tally — and a recent Monmouth University poll put her ahead of Sanders in New Jersey, two-to-one — in the contest for New Jersey’s 142 delegates.
“We’re running a great campaign here in New Jersey, but we could use every one of you to be involved with us,” she said.
Afterwards, the candidate spent some time shaking hands and snapping selfies with voters who felt gratified that New Jersey’s late June 7 primary’s finally getting some real attention.
“She’s so nice and she took time to take a picture with everyone,” said Julia Magee of Sicklerville.
“She brought up a lot of important points. First of all, about women’s rights and equality in work pay. I want to be a doctor one day, and I hope to get paid the same amount as my peers, said Sade Williams of Palmyra.
Clinton has expanded her campaign staff in New Jersey, recently hiring three senior strategists who plan to possibly bring the candidate back here in late May.
“New Jersey can send a very strong message to the rest of the nation: we’re a state that very much looks like America in our diversity, and we can send a very strong message that we support Hillary Clinton because she supports us,” said New Jersey Communications Director for the Clinton Campaign Derek Roseman.
The candidate’s gone, but come Friday it’ll be wall-to-wall Clintons in New Jersey when daughter Chelsea will campaign here for her mother in Essex and Middlesex counties and husband Bill will campaign in Passaic and Mercer counties.