Hillary Clinton went after a member of the Bush family on Friday in New Hampshire. Just not the one who is running for President.
Instead, Clinton subtly knocked – but did not name – George W. Bush twice in a speech where she portrayed herself as a progressive fighter.
“If you look at the evidence, at the end of Bill Clinton’s two terms, we had the longest peacetime expansion in American history with 22 million new jobs, a balanced budget and a surplus that would have paid off our national debt if it had not been rudely interrupted by the next administration,” Clinton said to loud applause from the assembled Dartmouth College students and local Democrats.
Clinton argued that “there is just a pattern” in which a Republican President wrecks the economy and it is left to the succeeding Democratic President to fix it. As her proof, Clinton pointed to both her husband and President Barack Obama, who she argued does not get enough credit for his response to the recession when he took office 2009.
“There is just a pattern here where the other side keeps using the same old tired, failed policies. They don’t work,” Clinton said. “And then Democratic presidents have to come in and fix what was broken.”
And as a pitch for herself, Clinton said, “So lets break that and have a Democratic President to continue the policies that actually work for the vast majority of Americans.”
Clinton’s visit to New Hampshire for the Fourth of July holiday is her fourth to the first-in-the-nation primary state since she launched her campaign in April. To date, the campaign has focused on small events and organizing, something Clinton’s aides hope will pay off at primary time in January 2016.
At Friday’s event, Clinton delivered her standard stump speech to a crowd of around 850, the campaign said.
“We have to take on the gun lobby one more time,” Clinton said in a pitch for gun control. “At the very least, we need to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, people with serious mental challenges, terrorists, all of whom now are perfectly free to go and find a gun somewhere. This is a controversial issue, I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it. So I will talk about it.”
Clinton spoke at length about how difficult the presidency is, calling it the “hardest job in the world,” but one she knows she wants.
After the speech, Clinton and her staff headed to Dairy Twirl, a small local ice cream shop in Lebanon, the town over from Hanover.
“It’s Fourth of July. You’ve got to get some ice cream,” she said, getting out of her van.
After ordering for herself, Clinton turned to the press and offered to buy.
“Would you guys like some ice cream?” Clinton asked the dozen or so reporters with her. “Those of you have traveled to the Upper Valley in pursuit of presidential politics. How about it? I’m paying. I’ll buy if anybody wants it.”
Instead of ice cream orders, though, Clinton was asked about Bernie Sanders, her Democratic challenger who has been surging lately, and why she hasn’t drawn sizable crowds like the Independent Vermont senator.
“We each run our own campaigns, and I always knew this was going to be competitive,” she said. “I want to have a great debate in the primary and caucus around the country and that is what I am looking forward to.”
Earlier this week, Sanders was greeted by 9,600 people at an event in Madison, Wisconsin. Although crowd size does not equal electoral success, the Sanders campaign argues it shows excitement around their candidate and a lack of enthusiasm for Clinton.
The largest event Clinton has held so far was her campaign kickoff rally on New York’s Roosevelt Island last month, where a few thousand people attended.
After taking two more questions, Clinton’s ice cream appeared in the window.
“Is that for me?” she said at the size of the scoops. “Holy schmoley.”
Clinton then shook a few more hands, met the owners of the shop and hopped into her van, headed for a fundraiser at the Holderness, New Hampshire home of Meg and Gary Hirshberg, the owners of the Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt company.
Clinton will celebrate the Fourth of July in Gorham, New Hampshire, where she will walk in their holiday parade.