CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE whipped the Democratic base into a frenzy in support of Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganInfighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms MORE (D-N.C.) in Charlotte Saturday afternoon, looking to boost female turnout for Hagan in what sounded like a first draft of a campaign speech.
Clinton ripped into North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) on women's issues, education and voting rights during the speech, leaning hard into potential campaign themes for what many expect to be a presidential run.
"The fact that women in North Carolina still get paid less than men for the same work costs those women and their families thousands of dollars every year. Imagine what a working mom could do with the money she is owed, the better home she could rent or even buy?" she said. "This is not just a women's issue, this is a family issue, a fairness issue."
Clinton also hit hard on raising the minimum wage, saying it's a "pro-family" issue — and offered a full-throated defense of legal abortion.
"Women's rights are the canary in the mine. If you don't protect women's rights here at home and around the world, everybody's rights are lost," she said. "You have to ask yourself, do you want a senator who will always defend a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions and won't ever shame or judge a woman for decisions that are complex and deeply personal, or do you want a senator who will push so-called 'personhood' laws that would outlaw common forms of birth control and ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest?"
Hagan is locked in a tight race against North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R). Much of her campaign has focused on education, women's health and economic issues, subjects that dovetail nicely with Clinton's early focus.
The lively crowd broke into an off-kilter rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Clinton as she took the podium, a day before she turns 67 years old. Many shouted "Run, Hillary" during the speech.
Hagan joked during her speech about the name of the Clintons' new granddaughter.
"What a name that was picked for the Clinton grand baby. Charlotte. Don't you think they might have Carolina on their minds?" she said.
Clinton was interrupted by a pair of Hispanic protesters. One told The Hill as he was escorted out by police that she needed to stand up to "stop the deportations" and slammed Hagan, saying she voted against the DREAM Act and "wants my mom deported."
Clinton eventually acknowledged them, saying immigration was an "important issue" before moving on.
Clinton and Hagan greeted supporters in the crowd of more than 1,000 at the Charlotte Convention Center. A late middle-aged black woman kept repeating "Run, Hillary, run" as Clinton and Hagan worked the ropeline after the event, and was shaking and in tears after Clinton greeted her. "She shook my hand. I can't believe it," she said as she turned away.