Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE bashed her Republican rivals as out of touch for refusing to support equal pay legislation during a campaign stop in South Carolina on Wednesday.
“It’s no secret that on equal pay and many other issues, we are up against some pretty powerful forces, political and economic, that will do, say and spend whatever it takes to advance a very different vision for America,” the Democratic presidential front-runner told a friendly crowd at the South Carolina House Democratic Women’s Caucus and Women’s Council during her first trip to the early primary state on her campaign.
“I’m here to tell you, I am not afraid to take them on. I've spent my adult life going to bat for children, families and our country.”
Clinton mocked critiques of equal pay legislation by GOP presidential hopefuls like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), but did not address them by name.
“To that I say: What century are you living in?” she said, arguing equal pay extends much further than a “women’s issue.”
“The truth is that when any parent is shortchanged, the entire family is shortchanged. And when families are shortchanged, America is shortchanged.”
Clinton lamented that women don’t earn the same pay as their male counterparts and take pay cuts when they have children.
She warned that “we could fix this if Republicans would get on board,” adding, “they won’t.”
The audience for Clinton's keynote speech was one of the campaign's largest to date by design. She has bucked the typical trappings of a presidential campaign in favor of smaller events designed to characterize Clinton as relatable and give her opportunities to connect with individuals and small groups of voters.
At times, she dipped into a noticeable Southern drawl reminiscent of her inflection during the first major speech of her 2008 campaign in Selma, Ala.
Clinton also joked with the crowd about the rigors of the job, noting she won’t go gray like other presidents have because she’s been coloring her hair “for years.”
The Republican National Committee (RNC) shot back with criticism of its own, accusing Clinton of hypocrisy on equal pay.
“Hillary Clinton has a habit of contradicting pro-women words with anti-women actions,” Allison Moore, the RNC’s national press secretary, said in a statement.
“Clinton now claims to care about equal pay, yet paid women significantly less than men in her own Senate office. The reality is that Hillary Clinton will say anything to benefit herself politically.”
The RNC cites reports in the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which claimed its analysis of her expenditures showed female employees had a median salary about $15,700 less than male employees. But other analyses by BuzzFeed and FactCheck.org found the median salaries for employees of both genders were equal.
Carly Fiorina, the only other female candidate in the race, also needled Clinton on the issue during a dueling appearance in South Carolina. The former HP chief executive criticized the existence of a seniority system in federal government that holds women back and repeated the claims that Clinton didn’t pay female Senate employees equally.
Clinton struggled in the Palmetto State in the 2008 White House race, when then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) won more than twice as many votes there on the way to a decisive 29 percentage point victory.
This time, victory is more likely; she won 59 percent support in a February poll by Public Policy Polling, even with both Vice President Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), two unlikely Democratic candidates, offered as alternatives.
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