Hillary Clinton presented herself as a nurturing mother and grandmother trying to help women who are crying out for government support at a campaign stop in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Actress Elizabeth Banks served as moderator for the Democrat nominee and her daughter Chelsea Clinton at a family town hall-style venue with many women and young people in the audience. The conversation generally focused on Clinton’s plan to provide federal support for women who are struggling with low-paying jobs, with raising their children, and with gun violence in their neighborhoods. Clinton also said she empathizes with black mothers dealing with law enforcement targeting their children.
The former secretary of state said across America women are telling her they need help from the government to pay for their childcare so they can work. Clinton said the governments of so many other advanced countries provide more for women and that, as president, she would work to ensure the United States provides paid family leave and sick days as well.
“It should not be so hard to be a young parent,” Clinton said. “And it should not be so hard on the other end of the age spectrum to take care of your loved one.”
Banks said that, while on the campaign trail, Clinton describes these issues as “quiet problems” that tend to keep mothers up worrying at night. Clinton specifically mentioned problems with addictions and mental health issues in families.
“People say, ‘I can’t get the help I need for myself, my spouse, my child,’” she said. “There’s just not enough help.”
“Two-thirds of all minimum-wage earners are women,” Clinton said. “And most of them have children.”
Attempting to convey an image of herself as a woman other women want to confide in, Clinton said that while voters do ask her questions about “what’s in the headlines,” they very often want to talk to her about “what keeps them up at night.”
“Women tell me these stories about how hard it is,” she continued. “They tell me not only do they have no paid family leave, they have no earned sick days.”
Clinton said the nurse who cared for Chelsea and her newborn in the hospital told her women come in to have babies on a Monday but then must return to work by Thursday or Friday of the same week, or else lose their jobs.
Clinton added that women have so many stresses on them – from affordable childcare to how to make college affordable.
“All of these are issues people have raised with me,” she said, adding that, as president, she hopes to “ease some of that burden.”
Banks asked Chelsea Clinton about her relationship with her mother, and Chelsea responded that she is “fiercely proud” of her and emphasized that her mother is the grandmother of her own two children.
“I wish that people really understood that stronger together, that putting families and children first, isn’t rhetorical for my mom,” she said.
Chelsea said she is happy to travel and campaign for her mother, though she misses her daughter when she is on the road. She said she can travel with her infant son because she is “breastfeeding,” and received a round of applause after she announced she is open about breastfeeding and that there is nothing wrong with it.
During the question and answer segment of the forum, one 15-year-old girl told Clinton she, like many girls her age, is concerned about “body image” and has seen “with my own eyes the damage [Republican nominee] Donald Trump has done when he talks about women and how they look.” The teen asked Clinton how she plans to “undo some of that damage” as the first female president.
“I’m so proud of you for asking that question!” Clinton exclaimed to the teen, thanking her profusely and adding that, “Young women are getting messages from the media” earlier that they should be more concerned with their appearance than their minds.
“My opponent insulted Miss Universe!” Clinton laughed as she spoke. “I mean how do you get more acclaimed than that? But it wasn’t good enough.”
“We need to laugh at it. We need to refute it. We need to ignore it. We need to stand up to it,” she said, calling for an end to women being bullied.
“We’re not all gonna end up in Miss Universe, I hate to tell you,” Clinton said, and added that women can be the best they can be in other ways, a statement that drew further applause.
“Let’s be proud of who we are, and let’s support other women and girls and be proud of who they are,” she urged to more applause.
A town commissioner asked Clinton how she would support education at the local level. Clinton responded she has “thought a lot about” what happens at the local level.
“I want to be the best possible partner of local communities,” Clinton said, recalling aloud how her husband, when he was president, started federal dollars flowing to communities for police training and rehabilitating school buildings.
One of Clinton’s campaign methods has been to present herself as the “maternal federal government,” swooping in to save the downtrodden from the nasty state governments that refuse to support local communities.
Painting the state legislatures as the enemies of local schools, particularly in inner cities, Clinton said many school districts are being “starved by state governments.”
“It takes a village, but the village has to be there for people,” Clinton said, promising more federal spending in local governments.
Chelsea Clinton added that schools should receive more financial support for teaching “pro-social” and anti-bullying behavior.
When one young teen proudly told Clinton that she played the role of the Democrat nominee during a class debate and won against another student who played Donald Trump, Clinton congratulated her for winning the debate and said, “That’s 2 and 0 now!”
The young girl then asked Clinton to explain more about her plan for “debt-free college.”
Clinton again slammed the state legislatures for choosing to build more prisons instead of providing more funding for universities so that students can reduce their loan debt.
“The more you invest in higher education, the more prepared the work force will be,” Clinton said, promising to let the federal government take on a greater role in funding college.
Clinton also pushed her goal of achieving a National Service force of volunteers, much like a civilian National Reserve, and said that those who volunteer to serve will be granted student loan forgiveness.
Chelsea Clinton also said she hopes, as president, her mother will be able to bring about automatic voter registration when Americans turn 18 “to encourage more participation” in elections. Clinton said young people ask her continually about criminal justice reform, student loan debt, and climate change, and they should be able to automatically vote when they turn 18 for leaders who will do what’s right on these issues.
With the emphasis still on mothers and children, Clinton and her daughter talked about the importance of federal investment in well-child care and pregnancy care, stating that more women are dying during pregnancy, labor, and immediately after childbirth. Clinton expressed concern about the lack of pre-natal care.
“We have to look at the whole life cycle,” Clinton said, “And I am committed to doing everything I can to keep the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) alive, and to improve the Affordable Care Act.”
Ironically, what neither Clinton nor her daughter discussed is that one of the Democrat nominee’s main supports is the abortion industry. If elected president, Clinton has promised to provide even greater funding to Planned Parenthood and to eliminate the Hyde Amendment – a federal provision that bars taxpayer funding of abortions. Clinton says she wants the Hyde Amendment repealed so that more low-income women can obtain abortions easily.
“An amazing conversation,” Banks said to both Clintons at the end of the forum. Banks specifically thanked Hillary Clinton for fighting for children and families “your entire adult life.”