Clin­ton on of­fense

The Demo­cratic front-run­ner paints Repub­li­cans as “party of the past” in re­marks at Ge­orge Ma­son.

The Washington Post Sunday - - FROM PAGE ONE - BY RACHEL WEINER rachel.weiner@wash­post.com

Hil­lary Clin­ton roused a crowd of sev­eral thou­sand Democrats in North­ern Vir­ginia on Fri­day night with sharp at­tacks on her Repub­li­can ri­vals, call­ing them the “party of the past” on is­sues as var­ied as do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism and gay mar­riage.

Her speech came at the end of an event­ful day, punc­tu­ated by both the Supreme Court rul­ing le­gal­iz­ing gay mar­riage and the fu­neral for the Charleston pas­tor killed June 17 with eight of his parish­ioners.

“It was an emo­tional roller coaster of a day,” Clin­ton said.

There was no sense of ex­haus­tion at Ge­orge-Ma­son Univer­sity’s Pa­triot Cen­ter, where about 2,000 Democrats cheered with gusto as the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date out­lined her pri­or­i­ties and booed with equal en­thu­si­asm as she jabbed Repub­li­cans in her speech that lasted a half-hour. Although Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) has been draw­ing larger crowds in re­cent weeks in a ri­val bid for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, Clin­ton on Fri­day proved that she also can elec­trify an au­di­ence.

She be­gan soberly, say­ing that de­spite the week’s Supreme Court vic­to­ries and the re­moval of Con­fed­er­ate flags from a num­ber of public venues across the coun­try, “fear and ha­tred are far from fin­ished.”

Clin­ton ap­plauded South Carolina Gov. Nikki Ha­ley (R) for call­ing for the Con­fed­er­ate flag to be re­moved from the grounds of that state’s capi­tol. But Clin­ton added: “We also sawthe op­po­site from too many, even in­clud­ing many of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates for pres­i­dent, who seem de­ter­mined to lead us right back into the past.”

She also chided House Repub­li­cans for vot­ing to re­strict re­search on gun vi­o­lence.

“How can you watch mas­sacre af­ter mas­sacre and take that vote?” she asked.

To loud boos, she noted that “re­cently, a Repub­li­can can­di­date for pres­i­dent de­scribed im­mi­grants as rapists, drug deal­ers and crim­i­nals.” Ear­lier in the day, Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Reince Priebus called that com­ment, from mogul Don­ald Trump, “not help­ful.”

There were more boos when Clin­ton re­called the ef­fort by Vir­ginia Repub­li­cans a few years ago to man­date ul­tra­sounds for women seek­ing abor­tions. It was later dis­cov­ered that the ex­am­i­na­tions would have had to be per­formed transvagi­nally for preg­nan­cies in their early weeks, which is when most abor­tions are per­formed.

“We don’t need any more lead­ers who shame and blame women,” she said.

“Across the board,” she con­cluded, “they are the party of the past.”

The au­di­ence mem­bers ate it up, ris­ing to their feet with a chant of “Hil­lary! Hil­lary!” af­ter her speech.

Even re­cy­cled lines got a warm re­cep­tion. The crowd laughed as Clin­ton said her hair would not turn white in the White House — she didn’t have to add that she’s been dye­ing it for years.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who in­tro­duced her to the crowd, joked that when he wants a beer, “I don’t go look­ing for Bill Clin­ton, I go look­ing for Hil­lary Clin­ton, be­cause she’s a lot more fun than Bill is.”

McAuliffe said Vir­ginia is not only a pres­i­den­tial bat­tle­ground state but also a test case for an ag­gres­sive brand of lib­er­al­ism. Clin­ton looked on, smil­ing, as McAuliffe cast his own un­likely rise from po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive to gover­nor as “the prime ex­am­ple” of “what hap­pens when Democrats don’t shy away from who we are, when we don’t shy away from our pro­gres­sive val­ues.”

He re­called that he cam­paigned heav­ily on abor­tion rights and was the first South­ern statewide can­di­date to come out in fa­vor of gay mar­riage.

“I didn’t shy away from the tough is­sues,” he said, his voice hoarse as he shouted through a 15-minute speech. “And that’s the mes­sage that Democrats need to push all around the coun­try.”

McAuliffe has made sev­eral moves that ap­peal to the Demo­cratic base. He en­gaged in the state pri­maries, help­ing un­seat a con­ser­va­tive Demo­crat and pro­pel his pre­ferred can­di­dates to vic­tory. He is phas­ing out Con­fed­er­ate flag li­cense plates in the state, launch­ing a study of whether to bring back pa­role and eas­ing the restora­tion of vot­ing rights for ex-felons. In the wake of the Supreme Court rul­ing up­hold­ing a key pro­vi­sion of the Af­ford­able Care Act, he is push­ing again for Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion de­spite firm Repub­li­can op­po­si­tion.

“Let me be clear, I’m just warm­ing up, folks,” he boasted. “That was just an ap­pe­tizer.”

Clin­ton’s visit is a sign of how crit­i­cal Vir­ginia is to Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike for 2016. State leg­isla­tive elec­tions in Novem­ber, with con­trol of the state Se­nate at stake, will be an early sign of which party is bet­ter mo­bi­lized for 2016.

“It’s no sur­prise that their num­ber one can­di­date is here in Vir­ginia,” state Repub­li­can Party Chair­man John Whit­beck said at a news­con­fer­ence that Repub­li­cans held out­side th ev­enue where Clin­ton and McAuliffe spoke. “More so than mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, Vir­gini­ans have the abil­ity to de­ter­mine who the next pres­i­dent is go­ing to be.”

Priebus la­beled Clin­ton’s can­di­dacy “one of the most staged and scripted cam­paigns that we’ve ever seen.”

The Pa­triot Cen­ter can hold 10,000 peo­ple, and Repub­li­cans mocked Clin­ton for its many empty seats. Democrats coun­tered that they were not ex­pect­ing to fill the arena; they were thrilled, they said, to sell more than 2,000 tick­ets and raise more than $1 mil­lion.

CHARLES OMMANNEY/THE WASHINGTON POST

Hil­lary Clin­ton chided Repub­li­cans on is­sues such as gun vi­o­lence and same-sex mar­riage.  Watch a video of the speech at wapo.st/va­clin­ton.

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