Hillary Clinton made her first campaign stop in South Carolina since she lost the Democratic presidential primary here in 2008 to Barack Obama. She campaigned in Columbia Wednesday, stopping at a business owned by minority women and then speaking to the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council.
She told the group she wants to end pay inequality for women, urging Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which she sponsored as a senator in 2005. It would give women the legal tools they need to fight discrimination at work, she said.
“We should promote pay transparency across our economy to ensure women have the information they need to negotiate fairly,” she told the women’s group. “You can’t stand up for equal pay if you don’t know whether you’re paid equally.”
The Republican National Committee responded quickly, sending out a statement by RNC National Press Secretary Allison Moore saying, “Hillary Clinton has a habit of contradicting pro-women words with anti-women actions. Clinton now claims to care about equal pay, yet paid women significantly less than men in her own Senate office. The reality is that Hillary Clinton will say anything to benefit herself politically.” She says Clinton paid women in her Senate office 72 cents for every dollar she paid men.
Clinton also talked about the national economy and how much it has improved under President Obama, and how it also improved after her husband took office. “Are we going to hand over our country once again to the people and policies that crashed our economy before, and that will shred the progress that we’ve made?” she asked the crowd, to shouts of “NO!”
She did not take any questions from reporters, which has been one of the biggest criticisms of her campaign. Reporters have wanted to ask her about her private email server she used while Secretary of State, the U.S. embassy attack and deaths in Benghazi and about foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. But she came into the hotel ballroom where she gave her speech through an area off limits to the media and left the same way without taking any questions.
Christine Martin drove to Columbia from Greenwood to hear Clinton. She says she’s a supporter regardless of any questions surrounding Clinton. “Because all of us have negatives and all of us have a past, and what we’re looking for is the future, ” she says. She says she’s also supporting Clinton because she’s a woman and because of her experience in the White House, something that Clinton herself mentioned in her speech.
“I do know how hard this job I’m seeking is,” the former First Lady said. “I have seen it up close and personal. You’re not going to catch me wondering what it’s like. Instead, I’m spending my time planning what I’ll do when I get there.”
Clinton was seen as the front-runner in the 2008 presidential campaign, but Barack Obama won in Iowa and then brought that momentum into South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary. Obama got 55 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 27 percent, propelling Obama to the Democratic nomination.