The Hill played it pretty straight with their coverage of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign rollout. She chose Roosevelt Island in the middle of New York City’s East River as her setting. This provided her with a few symbolic opportunities.
By choosing the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park as the site to kick off her second White House run, Clinton is trying to tie herself to the legacy of a third U.S. president and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt, one of her role models.
“President Roosevelt called on every American to do his or her part, and they answered,” said Clinton, standing on a massive stage molded in the form of her blue and red campaign logo.
“It’s America’s basic bargain – if you do your part, you ought to be able to get ahead,” she continued. “When everybody does their part, America ought to be able to get ahead too.”
You can also see the rebuilt World Trade Center from the island, which allowed her to remind people that she was serving as the junior senator from New York on September 11, 2001 and was in the Situation Room on the day that we found and killed Usama bin-Laden.
Other little details that are listed out in the article make it appear that the event was well thought out and went off without any hitches. The music was dominated by female vocalists and some of the bands were popular with the youth vote. A DREAMer appeared and made a speech.
And there was some value in the World Trade Center backdrop when she turned her speech to economic inequality, too.
The daughter of a housemaid and granddaughter of a Scranton, Pa., millworker, Clinton hit on populist themes throughout her speech, saying she wants to fight for all Americans.
“America can’t succeed unless you succeed,” she told throngs of supporters waving tiny American flags. “Democracy can’t be just for corporations and billionaires. It’s your time to secure gains and move ahead.
“That’s why I am running for president of the United States of America.”
In her roughly 45-minute speech, Clinton made only a passing reference to the battle over trade, which has divided Obama and congressional Democrats. And she continued to avoid taking sides in the intraparty spat.
“Advances in technology and the rise of global trade have created whole new areas of economic activity and opened new markets for our exports,” she explained, “but they have also displaced jobs and undercut wages for millions of Americans.”
You can be as cynical or as optimistic about all this as you want to be. For my part, I am at least pleased to see where she thinks she needs to take this campaign.
I’m always a little surprised to see any national politician embrace New York City. Growing up, I always got the sense that most of the country hated us and that it would be a bad idea to tell anyone you were from New York if you wanted them to like you. The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was really the first time I ever got a sense that the greater country valued us at all. It was disorienting to see people congratulating us for our courage and unity and resolve because I’d never been complimented before in my life for where I came from. I almost resented it at first because it didn’t strike me as sincere.
So, I’m glad Hillary went right to the heart of the city to launch her campaign, and I could never complain about choosing Four Freedoms Park. Bill Clinton was there on the day in 2012 when the park was finally dedicated.
As a reminder, here are the Four Freedoms, as articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union speech.
These became the rallying points for the nation as we confronted fascism in Europe and the Pacific.
The New York Times coverage focuses on her desire to close the income inequality gap. The Washington Post coverage has a more generic theme, describing Hillary as laying out a vision for a more “hopeful, inclusive America that takes care of its own while taking on big challenges such as climate change.”