Clinton brings campaign home to New York's Harlem

AFP , Wednesday 30 Mar 2016

Hillary Clinton (Photo: Reuters)

Hillary Clinton brought the presidential race to New York on Wednesday, visiting the historically black neighborhood of Harlem to outline a vision of national diversity and to attack Donald Trump.

Clinton looked delighted to back in her adopted home state, appealing for votes from the people who "took a chance on me" by electing her to the US Senate in 2000.

The former first lady, secretary of state and two-time senator holds a commanding double-digit lead over Bernie Sanders, her challenger for the Democratic nomination in the state's primary on April 19.

The 2016 New York primary is unusual in that it includes three New Yorkers: Clinton facing off against the Brooklyn-born Sanders, now senator of Vermont. On the Republican side, the Queens-born, Manhattan tycoon Trump will try to extend his lead over Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

New York has long embraced Clinton. Her husband and former president Bill Clinton set up his foundation in Harlem. The Clintons have a home in the suburbs. Their daughter and granddaughter live in Manhattan.

Her first stop Wednesday was a local bakery where she was welcomed by veteran New York congressman Charlie Rangel, who was born and raised in Harlem.

"It is great to be home," she said. "It's a joy to be campaigning in New York."

She delivered her stump speech, tailor-made for New York, at the Apollo Theater, an iconic venue in the emergence of jazz, R&B and gospel where greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Luther Vandross have performed.

"New Yorkers took a chance for me and I will never forget that. You have always had my back. I have always tried to have yours," she told the packed theater.

She recalled the horrors of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the resilience of the city, and appealed to the characteristics on which New Yorkers pride themselves: diversity, tolerance and getting things done.

She took a swipe at Trump for dividing the country, insulting women, and threatening to deport illegal immigrants and ban Muslims.

"It's cynical, it's wrong, and it goes against everything New York and America stand for," she said to cheers.

Turning her attention to Sanders and his leftist agenda, she said no one knows more than her the need to address income inequality but hammered home her enormous appeal among African Americans.

"But I will tell you this. It's also important to take on racial inequality and discrimination in all of its forms," she said to huge applause.

Before Clinton's arrival, Rangel joked in the cake shop that the largely Democratic city had already done more than enough to help her campaign.

"I truly believe that New York City has made one of the greatest contributions to the Democratic Party ever. And his name is Donald Trump," he said to laughs.

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