- Hillary Clinton endorsed Tom Wolf in the Pennsylvania governor's race
- Clinton has shied away from the campaign trail in recent months
- She lauded Wolf's focus on education and women
Hillary Clinton gave a full-throated endorsement of Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf on Thursday, delivering a fiery speech that hit Wolf's Republican opponent, pushed the larger Democratic midterm message and, at times, highlighted herself.
Clinton's first public campaign rally was a noticeable departure for someone who, until now, has shied away from appearing on stage with candidates. In Florida, New York and Illinois, the former first lady has opted to tout candidates in tight races behind closed doors. Wolf, however, is a safer bet for Clinton, as most polls have the Democrat up by double digits over Republican incumbent Tom Corbett.
"I am here for one reason, as a proud woman for Wolf," Clinton said, touting the Democrat's focus on education and women. "When you strip it all away, that is what this election is all about," she later added.
Her speech, though, also sounded strikingly similar to stump speeches Clinton gives when touting herself. The former first lady talked up her Pennsylvania roots (her father's side of the family was from Scranton) and noted the importance of turnout by subtly referencing her failed 2008 presidential election.
"From my perspective, you can't count on things turning out the way you wanted," Clinton said. "You've got to work for it."
And while two large Wolf for governor signs stood on stage in front of the roughly 900 attendees, the crowd clearly was more excited to see Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
"Listen, I am the one running for governor," Wolf said, half joking, when Clinton peeked her head around the curtain behind the stage and the crowd erupted in applause.
Clinton touted Wolf as a "fresh start," someone who would fight for Pennsylvania families and workers and "turn around" the state.
"I am pleased that you are all here supporting that campaign," Clinton told the supportive crowd. "Because you are convinced, as I am convinced, that Tom Wolf is the right leader and the right time for Pennsylvania's hard-working people."
Before the public endorsement, the former first lady headlined a high-dollar, closed fund-raiser for Wolf. Campaign aides would not confirm how much money was going to be raised, but in the past Clinton has raised as much as $1 million for candidates.
Clinton's event with Wolf offered a dramatic contrast to the time she spent with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday in Chicago. While Clinton and Wolf stood in front of a cacophony of television cameras and cheering supporters, Clinton and Quinn spent most of their time together behind closed doors at a private fund-raiser.
The only time Clinton and Quinn did spend in public was when the duo made an unannounced stop at a college Starbucks. One camera was invited.
Clinton shook hands with well wishers and posed for pictures, while Quinn urged students to vote in November. The former secretary of state posed for countless pictures and many students asked her for selfies.
Unlike Wolf, who is ahead in every poll, Quinn is an incumbent with an uphill battle to keep his job.
The trend is more than just Quinn and Wolf, too.
Last week in Miami, Clinton appeared behind closed doors with Charlie Crist despite the fact that the Democrat's campaign would have loved the image of the Florida gubernatorial hopeful standing with the former secretary of state.
Crist's race to unseat Republican Rick Scott is close in nearly every poll.
What's more, Clinton will appear next week in Michigan at an event with Gary Peters, the Democratic Senate nominee. Most polls have Peters up double digits over Republican Terri Lynn Land.
That event will be open to the press.