Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton visited the Capital Region on Monday pledging to tackle challenges in upstate New York, focusing on jobs and education.
Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, said the economy does better when there is a Democrat in the White House and that she would fight to create jobs and boost manufacturing across the country, particularly upstate.
“I will be the president who brings manufacturing back to upstate New York,” she said to booming applause in a packed gym with more than 1,000 people at Cohoes High School alongside U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and U.S. Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-NY.
“I want us to really have broad-based inclusive prosperity again,” she said. “More good jobs and rising incomes. That’s why I laid out plans for more infrastructure jobs, including the creation of an infrastructure bank. We also have to fix our water and sewer systems. We have work to do.”
Clinton praised Tonko’s push in Congress over the last several years for funding for water infrastructure, especially in New York’s upstate municipalities where infrastructure is crumbling.
“I would do everything I can if I am your president to make sure it takes,” she said. “New York is in such a critical position because so much of the country doesn’t have enough water. We have to be good stewards of our water.”
In terms of education, she said it needs to start with early childhood education and the support of teachers.
“I’m tired of all the scapegoating of our educators,” she said. “We need to be helping to support our teachers and educators to get them the resources they need to do the job they have to do.”
Clinton said she would also push to make college affordable again by taxing the wealthy. She stressed that her plan differs from her competitor Bernie Sanders’ pitch by requiring the wealthy to pay.
“I’m going to work to make sure everybody who needs it gets to go to a public college or university without borrowing a penny,” she said. “I want to work to get the cost down so I am asking students to work 10 hours a week. That will help lower the cost.”
Clinton said she also wants to make the country cleaner and greener. She said working to combat climate change would create millions of new jobs.
Her goal is to add half a billion solar panels in the country by the end of her first term and enough clean energy to power every home nationwide by the end of her second term.
Clinton said she would make the economy “fair” by having equal pay for women and raising the minimum wage. She said she would work against shipping jobs overseas.
She also pledged to “defend” equality, Planned Parenthood, social security, the Veterans Administration and voting rights.
“I will keep working on a comprehensive immigration reform with a path for citizenship,” she added. “And I will continue to fight for common sense gun safety reforms that will save lives.”
She closed her speech by saying, “All we have to fear is fear itself.”
“I would get up every single day and work for the results that will make a difference in your lives,” she said.
Capital Region lawmakers worked to excite the crowd before Clinton took the stage, touting her as a candidate with years of experience and deep roots in New York.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, spoke boisterously at the podium “welcoming the next president,” saying, “she is a champion for the middle class.”
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, said she believes women in government “get things done” and that Clinton will too.
“When she was Senator Clinton she got stuff done in the state of New York,” she said. “I know when she is president she will get things done for the people of the United States.”
Assemblywoman Patricia Fahey, D-Albany, said she endorses Clinton because she understands New York.
“This is the town and the state that loves her because we know her best,” she said. “This is the woman who can hit the ground and get us moving again.”
Before the event, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said that Clinton “stands above the competition” and that he’s looking forward to the April 19 primary.
“It’s a little unusual to have New York in play this late in the primary,” he said. “She did a great job as senator for New York and served as secretary of state with distinction.”
Former Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said he believes “she is by far the best candidate.”
“I think it’s great she’s coming here and recognizes our area,” he said. “My feeling is she has training and has been around for a long time and understands the country and the issues.”
Before the Cohoes event, Clinton stopped in Albany to meet with Democratic state lawmakers.
Earlier in the day, Clinton was at a rally in New York City with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to celebrate the state’s passage of a minimum wage hike. She called the agreement of the increase in the GOP-led Senate “a modern-day miracle.”
The state budget includes a raise in the minimum wage in New York City to $15 by the end of 2018. Long Island and Westchester County won’t reach a $15 wage for nearly six years. And areas north of Westchester, including the Capital Region, will only reach $12.50 by 2021.
At the same time, about 100 people gathered outside the state Capitol in Albany on Monday for a rally in support of Bernie Sanders, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination for president.
Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, spoke during the rally saying Sanders would help the poor and middle class in the country. He is the only state legislator from the Capital Region who has endorsed Sanders.
The U.S. Senator from Vermont put out a statement on Monday praising New York’s passage of a minimum wage hike. Sanders, 74, said he would like to see the minimum wage increased nationwide.
“As president, I will proudly stand with working families all across our country and fight for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and provide paid family leave to every worker in America,” he said in a statement. “Together, we can rebuild the middle class in this country, reduce poverty, raise wages, combat soaring income and wealth inequality and create millions of jobs.”
Clinton was in Syracuse on Friday, where she discussed her $10 billion plan to return manufacturing jobs to the United States.
On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton plans to visit Rochester and Buffalo to campaign for his wife. The events in upstate New York are a push by the Clintons ahead of the state’s April 19 primary.
Hillary Clinton, 68, was twice elected to the U.S. Senate in New York and later served as secretary of state under President Barack Obama. She lives in Chappaqua, Westchester County.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, firstname.lastname@example.org or @HRViccaro on Twitter.