Hours after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Hillary Clinton told hundreds of Virginia Democrats on Friday that “Across the board, (Republicans) are the party of the past, not the future.”
The Democratic frontrunner was speaking at a Jefferson Jackson fundraiser for the Virginia Democratic Party at George Mason University on a night in which she was repeatedly referred to by fellow Democrats as the next President of the United States.
“This morning, they all decried the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Clinton said, noting that “we even heard them call for a constitutional amendment” against same-sex marriage.
A fired-up Clinton then seemingly spoke directly at the 13 declared Republican presidential hopefuls.
“I am asking them, please, don’t make the rights, the hopes, of any American into a political football for this 2016 campaign,” she said. “LGBT Americans should be free not just to marry, but to live, learn and work, just like everybody else.”
Republican response to the Supreme Court’s decision was universally opposed, but politically mixed. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called for respect for the court’s decision, despite opposing it. On the other side of the spectrum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he wants to amend the Constitution to leave the decision over who can marry up to each state.
Clinton read the last paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion from the stage on Friday, ending with, “And to that I say, amen, thank you.”
“This morning, love triumphed in the highest court in our land,” Clinton said. “Equality triumphed, America triumphed.”
She did not mention former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the event, all of whom are vying to be the Democratic Party’s nominee.
Clinton’s stance on same-sex marriage has evolved over the years. Her husband, President Bill Clinton, signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which defined for federal purposes marriage between one man and one woman. As a senator, Clinton backed civil unions and partner benefits for same-sex couples, and came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013, shortly before the Court struck down a key provision of the 1996 law.
But the former secretary of state’s attacks on Republican hopefuls were not limited to same-sex marriage.
Reacting to the other landmark decision by the Supreme Court this week, Clinton said, “All the Republican candidates were furious that earlier this week the Supreme Court once again confirmed what we have all known and believed for years: (Obamacare) is settled law and it is here to stay.”
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court saved Obama’s controversial health care law on Thursday, ruling that the Affordable Care Act was authorized to provide federal tax credits to states with federal marketplaces.
“Even after two Supreme Court verdicts and a presidential election, they are still fighting to take us backwards,” Clinton said, referring to the 2012 Supreme Court decision on the issue and that year’s presidential election. “I think we can sum up the message from the Court and the American people: ‘Move on.’”
As she has in the past, Clinton said she doesn’t think the health care law is perfect, pointing to drug and out-of-pocket costs as two areas that she says need to be addressed.
But she embraced Obama throughout the speech, and she applauded the way the President eulogized Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the South Carolina state senator who was killed along with eight others in last week’s church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.
She referenced the tragedy when she hit House Republicans for voting on Wednesday to put restrictions on whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can study gun violence and make recommendations.
“How can you watch massacre after massacre and take that vote?” she asked. “That is wrong. It puts our people at risk, and I, for one, am never going to stop fighting for a better, safer approach to get the gun violence in this country under control.”
Friday’s event was meant to focus on the successes of Virginia Democrats – including longtime Clinton friend and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. But as the program went on, the event started to feel like a Hillary for America rally.
Rep. Bobby Scott said he was happy to welcome “the next President of the United States of America to the commonwealth of Virginia.” Sen. Tim Kaine said, “I’m so excited we get to be here to welcome Secretary Clinton, our next President.” And Sen. Mark Warner added, “I don’t know about you, but I made my choice. I’m ready for Hillary.”
McAuliffe, Clinton’s 2008 campaign chairman, was even more effusive, to the point of getting personal.
“Folks, let me say this, this is personal for me,” he said. “I have known Hillary for decades. We have worked hard together, we have played hard together.”
The famously blunt governor went on to tell the audience that when he and his wife travel with Bill and Hillary Clinton and the governor wants a drink, “I don’t go looking for Bill Clinton. I go looking for Hillary Clinton, because she is a lot more fun that Bill Clinton.”
McAuliffe described Clinton as a fighter who has “been knocked down” but gets up every time and “gets right back in that arena again.”
“And yes, after 239 years,” he concluded, “it is time for a woman President of the United States.”