Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to the Alabama Democratic Conference in Hoover Oct. 17.
In her speech to the Alabama Democratic Conference, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she would not take any state for granted during her election campaign, even the traditionally conservative Alabama.
Clinton was the ADC's guest of honor at its semi-annual luncheon, held at the Hyatt Wynfrey Hotel at Riverchase Galleria on Oct. 17. Prior to the former Secretary of State's address, Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Nancy Worley said the ADC should work to "turn this state from red to purple to blue" with Democratic candidates on every level of government.
Clinton spoke first on her campaign, stating that she would not be a third term either of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, or current President Barack Obama, but she would carry on the legacy of past Democrats if elected.
She did not delve into policy specifics at the luncheon, but she did outline several components of her platform. These included job growth and wage increases, and Clinton said she believes the president should get more recognition for improvements to the economy since the downturn that began in 2007. However, she also said more improvements are needed.
"The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House," Clinton said. "We're standing but we're not running."
Other policy elements included strengthening infrastructure, environmental responsibility, higher minimum wage, wage equality between genders, paid parental leave, increasing access to early childhood education and reducing the cost of college, including a special fund set aside for historically black colleges. Clinton said she would uphold the Affordable Care Act and work to lower healthcare costs and the cost of medications. She also said she plans to "end the era of mass incarceration" and privatization of jails.
Clinton's statement that "black lives matter" brought many people in the audience to their feet to applaud her. It also segued into her next topic: voting access in Alabama.
As part of the new fiscal year's budget, 31 Alabama driver's license offices have closed. Since the state requires a photo ID to vote, many in the Democratic Party, such as District 7 Representative Terri Sewell, feel that the decision prevents many residents from accessing the IDs they need to vote. Many of the counties where the shutdowns happened have a high minority population, which is leading the ADC to question whether they were intentionally chosen for closure. Governor Robert Bentley has stated previously that the closures are unrelated to race.
Clinton, however, believes with the ADC that the closures are the direct result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to renew part of the Voting Rights Act.
"We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy," Clinton said.
"No one should be able to take that vote away."
Calling the closures a "blast from the Jim Crow past," Clinton applauded people in the state and around the nation who have been calling for Alabama to reopen the offices. She said government officials should be working to bring more people into the political process, not making decisions that could limit their access to the election booth.
Clinton also called for early voting, which does not currently happen in Alabama, and said she would support automatic voter enrollment on citizens' 18th birthdays.
At the end of her speech, Clinton returned to the campaign theme and talked about elections she's won and lost, as well as the importance of extending "the hand of friendship" to political opponents. She also said that as she makes her bid for the White House, she also wants to help local Alabama Democrats get elected.
"I know how to stand my ground and find common ground," Clinton said.
"We are building something that will last longer than November 2016 if we do this right."
She left the stage to chants of "Hillary! Hillary!" from the audience.