Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged from Super Tuesday with more than twice as many total delegates as Bernie Sanders, her opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination. After Clinton solidified her status as the Democratic front-runner she traveled to New York, where she served for eight years in the Senate, to deliver her stump speech at the Javits Center on March 2.
Now, Clinton is shifting her focus onto unions ahead of the Michigan and Ohio primaries.
“I’ve always believed when unions are strong, families are strong, and America is strong,” Clinton said. “That is not a slogan for me. That is a statement of fact.”
Clinton emphasized her family history in the beginning of the speech. She described that her grandmother was a factory worker and her father opened a textile plant, and that formed the basis for her respect of hardworking American families.
“As long you are fighting for the working families of America, I will be in the trenches fighting alongside of you,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s riff on unions marks a delineation from her previous addresses. Since Super Tuesday, Clinton has zeroed in on the general election, and she has avoided bring up Sanders’ name in her speeches.
Every letter of the alphabet and color seemed to be represented among the unions at the rally. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) brandished purple shirts, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) wore orange, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) waved black signs with plastered with the word “solidarity,” and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) sported blue shirts.
“She’s been there for working men and women for as long as anyone can remember,” Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, said after the rally. “It’s the substance that matters here. It’s the fact that in the last debate, which was in Wisconsin, she put it to Governor Walker in her closing.”
Weingarten continued, “What we saw here today was a crowd of working people that were excited for Hillary Clinton, because she has their back.”
Carolyn Happy, a Clinton supporter, said Clinton needs to mend fences when it comes to NAFTA. But, Happy added, “Her wide range of talent and experience is why I have zero worries about voting for her. She’s really ready for the job.”
Earlier, liberal stars and New York natives Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo came to rally the union-heavy crowd.
“[The Republicans] are going to fan the flames of fear, stoke that fear, stoke that anxiety — turn the people against each other,” Cuomo said. “They want to build walls. We want to build bridges.”
As of 2015, Michigan had the 9th highest percent of union members in the country. The Michigan primary will be held on March 8, and the Real Clear Politics poll average estimates that Clinton is ahead by 20 points.
Juan Contla contributed to this article.