Hillary Clinton, appealing to women voters Monday in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections, cast the Republican Party as a pariah on issues of health care and income inequality.
Clinton, speaking at a luncheon fundraiser for House Democrats, criticized Republicans for their opposition to the federal healthcare overhaul and support for the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case that allowed employers to exclude birth-control coverage from their health plans.
“You can elect those who applauded when the Supreme Court pulled the rug out from beneath America’s women with the Hobby Lobby decision and who see nothing wrong with turning over a woman’s reproductive health care decisions to her employer, those who are often quicker to shame women than support them,” Clinton said. “Or you can make a different choice.”
Clinton, the former secretary of state and likely presidential candidate in 2016, has visited California frequently this year, most recently to speak at a technology conference in San Francisco last week.
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She is expected to make an announcement about the presidential race sometime after the Nov. 4 midterm elections.
Introducing her Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi drew laughter when she said “if” Clinton decides to run for president – and cheers when she said “she will win.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said the fundraiser at The Fairmont Hotel, billed as the “ultimate women’s power luncheon,” raised $1.4 million. Tickets ranged from $500 to $16,200. California is a reliable go-to for Democratic fundraising. After the event in San Francisco, Clinton was scheduled to travel to Los Angeles for a fundraiser for Senate Democrats.
Clinton faulted Republicans for their opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would give employees new ways to combat wage discrimination. Republicans have called the bill a giveaway to trial lawyers.
“This is our chance, our chance to elect Democrats who are fighting to jump-start the middle class – our chance to elect Democrats who are working for better jobs and better wages,” Clinton said.
For this year’s midterms, however, Democrats face strong headwinds – even in deep-blue California. Democrats face the prospect of losing control of the U.S. Senate, and Democrats are on the defensive in several House races in California.
In one of the most closely watched races of the year, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, is trying to fend off a challenge by former Rep. Doug Ose. In Southern California, three other Democrats, Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego, Rep. Julia Brownley of Westlake Village and Rep. Raul Ruiz of Riverside County face tough re-election contests.
Clinton, meanwhile, has enjoyed relatively high public approval ratings in California since she was first lady in the 1990s, and the state went for Clinton over Barack Obama in the presidential primary in 2008.
The Field Poll last year put Clinton’s favorable rating in the state at 56 percent – and nearly 80 percent among Democrats.
Yet many liberals have expressed frustration with Clinton over her ties to Wall Street, her Senate vote to authorize the Iraq war in 2002 and, as was evidenced Monday, her avoidance of the Keystone XL pipeline controversy.
Before Clinton spoke, a handful of environmental activists protested outside, carrying signs urging the blocking of Keystone.
But with Clinton’s popularity among Democrats, liberals may be relegated to pushing her on policies rather than advocating for an alternative.
Valerie Love, an organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity, said she “might prefer somebody else with a more progressive agenda.” But with Clinton’s “very likely nomination,” Love said, “we want her to use her power for good.”
Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.