Clinton to DNC: 'Party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump'

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  • Democratic power brokers gathered in Minneapolis for their annual meeting
  • Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee addressed the meeting

Minneapolis (CNN)Hillary Clinton continued to tie Donald Trump to the rest of his party Friday, using a fiery speech at the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting on Friday to slam the Republican front-runner.

In a long riff about the real estate mogul, Clinton blasted the party for getting away from its founding principles.
"The party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump," Clinton said.
    Clinton blasted Trump for arguing that he would be better than she on dealing with women's health issues.
    "Now, that is a general election debate that is going to be a lot of fun," she said to a markedly pro-Clinton audience. Stickers with Clinton's "H" logo were ever-present and the American Federation of Teachers stacked the area of the event open to the public with 75 Clinton supporters in T-shirts that read, "AFT For Hillary 2016."
    At multiple times during the speech, the audience broke out into chants of "Hillary, Hillary."
    In addition focusing on Republicans, the message of Clinton's visit was clear: She won't make the mistakes she made in 2008.
    Clinton promised the state Democratic leaders and party operatives that she would be their "partner every step of the way" in rebuilding the Democratic Party, adding that her work would not just be on winning the White House and Congress, but also statehouses across the country.
    In a conversation with reporters after her speech, Clinton acknowledged the importance super delegates, party activists, leaders and elected officials whose support counts to the eventual delegate count that decides the party's nominee.
    Clinton's failed 2008 campaign was plagued by poor delegate counting and it was not uncommon for Clinton to win the popular vote in a state but lose the delegate count.
    "As some of you might recall, in 2008, I got a lot of votes but I didn't get enough delegates," Clinton said. "And so I think it is understandable that my focus is going to be on delegates, as well as votes, this time."
    Clinton added, "We are working really hard to lock in as many supporters as possible. Of course that would include super delegates. ... I am heartened by the positive response I am getting."
    Clinton's campaign has brought a sizable team to Minneapolis to do just that. In addition to the aides who regularly travel with her, Robby Mook, her campaign manager, Marlon Marshall, the campaign's director of state campaigns and political engagement, Marc Elias, the campaign's lawyer, and Charle Baker, the campaign's chief administrative officer, are all at the DNC meeting to help convince delegates to commit to Clinton.
    The campaign is already hyper-focused on the number of super delegates -- party activists, leaders and elected officials whose support counts to the eventual delegate count that decides the party's nominee -- that have endorsed the former secretary of state. Clinton and her top aides receive daily briefings that tally their super delegates, and Mook said Friday that Clinton aides feel very confident in their super delegate strength.

    Other Democrats address meeting

    Clinton was not the only candidate in Minnesota on Friday, however.
    Part team building, part pep-rally, the meeting was an opportunity for Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee to reach out to people who, come 2016, will be considered coveted endorsements.
    Sanders, an independent senator who caucuses with Democrats in Washington and is seeking the party's presidential nomination, took his fiery anti-establishment rhetoric to the most establishment Democratic meeting in the country Friday.
    "Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate or the U.S. House, will not be successful in dozens of governors races all across this country, unless we generated excitement ad momentum and produce a huge voter turnout," he said. "That turnout, that enthusiasm, will not happen with politics as usual."
    He added, "The same old, same old, will not work."
    This setting is unfamiliar terrain for Sanders: He told reporters that this was the first time he has ever addressed a DNC meeting and that the only convention he attended was in 2008.
    O'Malley used his 15-minute speech to blast the number of presidential debates the Democratic National Committee has organized, telling the very party officials who made the decision that the number of debates are "undemocratic."
    "Is this how the Democratic Party selects its nominee, or are we becoming something else, something less?" he said.
    DNC officials say it is highly unlikely that the party sanctions any more debates, even with O'Malley's complaints. It is also unlikely, they say, that the party will lower their strict rules about participating in unsanctioned DNC debates.
    Speaking with reporters after his speech, O'Malley flatly said "yes" when asked whether the debate schedule outlined by the DNC is aimed at helping Clinton.
    Chafee, a former Republican senator and independent governor, spoke before Clinton, delivering a far more subdued speech that was not well received.
    Chafee noted during his speech that in 30 years of public life, he "has had no scandals." Many of the DNC members took that at a shot at Clinton, who has been dogged by controversies and scandals for much of her career. There were audible boos from the audience.
    Chafee, however, told reporters after the speech that the line was not aimed at Clinton.
    Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb did not speak at the event. He informed the DNC last week that he would be seeing his daughter off to college on Friday and unable to make it to Minneapolis.
    "We saw no plan offered by DNC officials for meaningful interaction with their members," said Craig Crawford, Webb's spokesman. "Time-limited 10-minute speeches and a hospitality room? Direct mail vendors probably get more exposure."
    Candidates like Webb and O'Malley have openly complained about the DNC's ties to the Clinton campaign. Those complaints grew louder on Thursday when the DNC and Clinton's team signed a joint fundraising agreement, allowing the Democratic frontrunner to raise money for the party.
    Although a DNC spokesperson said they hope to sign similar deals with other campaigns, none have yet.
    "The Democratic National Committee," said Crawford, "is like watching another really poor parody of The Sopranos."