By Mrinal Gokhale
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came together on a powerful note for the Wisconsin Democratic Founders Day Gala on Sat, April 2 at the Wisconsin Center.
Hundreds of Wisconsinites and out-of-towners were there enjoying a gourmet dinner as Clinton and Sanders took turns criticizing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and proposing solutions to the damage they feel he has done.
Mayor Tom Barrett gave an opening speech, discussing the current state of Milwaukee’s economy.
“At end 2015, more Milwaukeeans had jobs compared to 2011. But the problem is that there’s too much poverty even for those working full time, making wages an issue both state and city wide,” he said.
Sanders was the first to speak, and he introduced himself as a democratic socialist.
His first promise was guaranteeing free college tuition for public universities, and he mentioned Governor Walker’s tax breaks for large corporations and Wisconsin education budget cuts.
“I think it’s a better idea to increase education funding and demand for large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes,” he said.
The audience responded well to this, and Sanders later expressed his ability to keep his campaign smaller compared to the Republican candidates who rely on gas lobbyists. “The Democratic Party needs a vibrancy, an energy a level of grassroots activism that we do not have at this moment.” Clinton expressed that she’s skeptical about free tuition, but said she feels it’s important to increase access to education while reducing debt occurred with college expenses. She also criticized Gov. Walker for attacking teacher unions, describing him as a bully.
“When a governor attacks nurses, teachers and firefighters, he’s not a leader. He’s a bully,” she said.
She then promised that she will work with workers in Wisconsin and in the U.S. if she’s elected.
“I opposed the only multilateral trade deal that came up when I was in Senate because I felt it’ll hurt jobs in America,” she said. She compared herself to Sanders, criticizing him for opposing all trade deals.
“When trade is done right, it puts many Wisconsin companies in a better position. We need a president who doesn’t just rail against trade, but a president who can compete against the rest of the world and win for American workers.”
Women’s issues were also discussed by both Clinton and Sanders. Sanders again mentioned Governor Walker, saying he makes it difficult for women to take control of their bodies. He proposes twelve weeks of paid family leave, along with better access for birth control.
Clinton proudly said she’s endorsed by Planned Parenthood and will fight for women’s healthcare access.
“Wisconsin is doing what they can to hold back access to women’s healthcare.”
She even took it a step further by attacking Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley, who was appointed by Walker three times.
“There’s no place in any Supreme Court or any court in this country for Rebecca Bradley’s decades-long track record of dangerous rhetoric against sexual assault survivors, women and the LGBT community,” she said.
Bradley has been under controversy for calling gay men “queers” in a college newspaper opinion piece she wrote about 20 years ago. Clinton also referred to something Bradley wrote against birth control users in 2006.
“She actually said, and I had to read this three times,” Clinton began.
After the audience laughed, she went on to say, “Doctors who provide it, namely birth control, and the women who us it, namely birth control are party to murder.” Towards the end, Clinton said Republicans accuse her of “dealing the gender card.”
“Well, if Planned Parenthood and paid family leave is dealing gender card, then deal me in,” she exclaimed, adding that controlling women’s bodies makes them “second class citizens.”
Her speech resulted in extremely enthusiastic applause from the audience. Before she left, Clinton soon shook hands and took photos with attendees who made it up front to the stage.
The audience seemed to cheer more for Clinton, who said she has received 9 million votes so far, which is more than Donald Trump and even Sanders.