HAMMOND: Hillary Clinton took her race for the White House to the depressed steel belt of Indiana on Tuesday, pledging to revive beleaguered manufacturing and hold China accountable for trade abuses.
The Democratic frontrunner jetted in from Pennsylvania, as it and four other northeastern states voted in the latest round of primaries expected to hand Clinton more big wins over her rival Bernie Sanders.
A very strong showing in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island would put Clinton on the cusp of Democratic victory — putting her one step closer in her quest to become America’s first female commander in chief.
On Tuesday, she had her head down in the Indiana town of Hammond, where she was given a guided tour of Munster Steel, a family business for three generations that uses only American steel in production.
She met workers and was given a tutorial on how particular machines were operated. The company specializes in making bascule bridges.
Railing against trade agreements that have cost thousands of American manufacturing jobs have been a cornerstone of Sanders’s campaign, and Clinton’s Indiana stop was a further sign that she is looking to reach out to his support base and secure their votes in November.
The stop comes just a week before The Hoosier State votes on May 3 in its primary, the next state nominating contest after Tuesday’s five-state primary frenzy.
“In this campaign, it’s important that people not just give speeches and get everybody riled up,” she said. “Give me the specifics, don’t just give me the rhetoric and the demagoguery,” she said to applause.
She called out Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and his closest rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but stopped short of mentioning Sanders, the 74-year-old self-declared democratic socialist by name.
Clinton, 68, said she is “just bewildered” when Trump says wages are too high and called Cruz’s call for a national right to work law “wrong.”
She addressed hundreds more layoffs expected across Indiana and said leadership had to come from the White House to challenge business leaders and fend off unfair foreign competition, particularly from China.
– Stand up to China –
The former secretary of state has promised a $10 billion plan to create more manufacturing jobs if she wins in November.
“I’ve got a set of plans that will incentivize companies to treat workers like the assets they are, not costs to be cut and it is important that we do everything possible to make any company that shifts jobs overseas to pay back any tax benefits,” she said.
“I’m going to stand up to both CEOs at home and China abroad,” she said. “If they invest in America we’ll stand with them. If they pay their fair share, we’ll stand with them, but if they cut and run, they will be made to pay a price.”
“As president I will go to bat for all of our trade,” she said to applause, vowing to crack down on Chinese companies blamed for dumping steel.
“We’re going to use every tool we possibly can against China for their illegal actions.”
The decline in US manufacturing resonates particularly strongly in Indiana, a midwestern state where the Clinton campaign said nearly one in five jobs are in manufacturing.
Hammond and its immediate surrounding area is a blue pocket in a predominantly Republican state, and support for the Clintons here goes back decades.
Fred McCraw, chief union steward at the company, said he started out backing Sanders and feels more politically aligned to the Vermont senator but will now be voting for Clinton in Indiana’s primary.
“I’ve kind of come around to seeing the practicality of Hillary Clinton being the nominee,” the 59-year-old McCraw told AFP.
“Not only that, I think she’ll make a good president, she’ll be able to deal with the Republican Congress better than Bernie would because Bernie would be more starting out green.”
McCraw said he still liked Sanders but had been turned off by the senator’s determination to become more aggressive and take the gloves off in a campaign that previously revolved around good manners.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016
Courtesy : BRecorder