A day after it was announced that Brooklyn would host the next Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and less than two weeks before the crucial New York primary, Clinton hosted a town hall meeting at the gymnasium of Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Avenue.
During the event, held on Tuesday, April 5, the Democratic candidate touched on a number of topics, but focused primarily on women’s rights. Clinton was introduced by Congressmember Yvette Clarke and First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray. New York City Public Advocate Leticia James was also in attendance to voice her support.
“I am thrilled to have a chance to be here in Brooklyn, a chance to be here at Medgar Evers, to have a chance to see all of you, because when it comes down to it, I believe the values of New York are the values of America,” said Clinton.
The former Secretary of State discussed the current hot button issue of Roe v. Wade and the state of the Republican Party. “We’ve got to stand firm on behalf of a women’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions,” she said, mentioning Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. “Don’t be misled. Trump may be the most outrageous of the Republicans, but he is saying what all of them believe. They want abortion to be illegal and they do want to punish women and doctors. He just committed the sin of telling people what they believe.”
Clinton also stressed the importance of keeping the law intact. “This is a challenge that some of us have been dealing with for a long time. But make no mistake, it goes to the heart of women’s autonomy and independence and rights. It is critical to who we are and who we can be. We must defend it,” she said.
The difference in salary between men and women in the workplace was also a main talking point for Clinton, contending that women have to be guaranteed equal pay for the same position, as well as contending that women should be paid fairly for work in professions that have historically been dominated by them.
“A lot of the pay disparity in our country is because of the professions where women are most heavily represented,” she said. “People try to say that as an excuse. Those jobs are just as important as anybody else’s job, number one. You’re a teacher, you’re a nurse, you’re a social worker, you deserve to be paid in a way that produces dignity and a decent standard of living.”
One solution Clinton offered was more openness within companies. “We need more transparency so we know exactly what people are being paid and they can’t hide behind some smokescreen, and we are going to require more transparency from businesses because, right now, if you try to find out what somebody in your job is making, you can get fired or retaliated against. We’re going to end that,” said the former senator.
Although she remains in a competitive race with Sanders to become the Democratic nominee, Clinton continued to call out Trump, who currently leads the GOP in delegates.
“There are too many voices out there, too many people are trying to divide Americans against Americans. I wish they’d all come to New York and spend some time here. And the fellow that’s from New York, I wish he’d get out of one of his towers and actually walk the street and spend time with the people of this city because peddling prejudice and paranoia is not the New York way,” she said.
Clinton also attacked Senator Ted Cruz, who has seen a recent surge, on comments he made on religious profiling. “When Ted Cruz says let’s religiously profile people, and let’s have special police patrol that go into neighborhoods where Muslims live, how he’s ever going to figure that out in New York is beyond me, it’s just craziness. I thought it was not only shameful and offensive, it is dangerous,” she said.
The 2009 recession was also brought up. “We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Nine million Americans lost their jobs. Five million homes were lost. And 13 trillion dollars in family wealth was wiped out,” she said. “Who was hardest hit? African Americans, Latinos and women. I don’t think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for digging us out of the ditch that the Republicans put us into.”