Six Points From Hillary Clinton’s Speech to AFL-CIO Convention in Philly Today

She attempted to distance herself from Bernie Sanders, pointed to her record on trade, and, of course, shouted out new national champs Villanova.

Hillary Clinton speaks Wednesday, April 6, 2016, at the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia. Photo | Matt Rourke, AP

Hillary Clinton speaks Wednesday, April 6, 2016, at the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia. Photo | Matt Rourke, AP

There was no shortage of applause during Hillary Clinton‘s speech to the AFL-CIO labor convention this afternoon at the Sheraton in downtown Philly. She spoke in brash support of the union members in attendance, and argued that she — not Bernie Sanders nor any of the Republican candidates — is the best candidate for the middle class and working families. Here are some key moments from her 30-minute address:

1) In terms of labor, the economy, and creating jobs, she and Sanders are not the same. 

Clinton did acknowledge that she and Sanders, who handily won the Wisconsin primary last night, do agree on certain issues. They both believe that wages are too low, inequality is too high, and the prices of healthcare, prescription drugs, and education are crippling middle class families.

However, Clinton sees some of Sanders plans to be unrealistic. She said that the financial numbers of his plans to bridge the wealth gap don’t add up, meaning that there simply is not enough money to implement the programs he proposes. Additionally, she believes that Sanders is banking on some Republican governors to miraculously turn progressive in order for his policies to pass. For other issues, Clinton said, Sanders has no plan at all.

“Here’s my promise to you,” Clinton said. “If I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, organized labor will always have a champion in the White House and a seat at the table.”

2) Republicans do not support labor unions and will hurt the middle class. 

Without mentioning him by name, Clinton said that a certain Republican frontrunner believes wages are too high, and implored Donald Trump to take a walk out of one of his towers and talk to people who have to work to make a decent living. She also accused GOP governors and legislators of waging assaults on workers’ rights.

Another example Clinton gave of those attacks from the right was Ted Cruz — the winner of Wisconsin’s Republican Primary — and his support for right-to-work legislation. Right-to-work laws aim to weaken labor unions.

Although she credited President Obama with stabilizing the economy that she says the G.O.P. and George W. Bush left in shambles in 2009, she acknowledged that things need to be better. The typical middle class family makes $4,000 less than it did 15 years ago during her husband’s last year as president, she said.

“Right-to-work is wrong for workers and wrong for America,” Clinton added.

3) Clinton believes she has both the record and the plan for bolstering the economy. 

Clinton laid out her plans for empowering workers and the United States by keeping the power of both large corporations and other countries in check. She also voiced her support for Pa. Governor Tom Wolf in trying to raise the state’s minimum wage.

“I’ve proposed specific new incentives for companies to share profits with employees on top of good wages, because when corporations do well, all the benefits shouldn’t go just to the CEOs and the shareholders,” she said. “The workers who actually produce those profits ought to be rewarded.”

Clinton said she plans to force any company that ships jobs overseas to give back any tax breaks that they receive.

As for her record, Clinton said that during her time as a senator from New York, she was the co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which backed labor unions, and she also opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement, “the only multilateral trade deal” that came through the senate during her tenure, she said.

Clinton was adamant that she will harshly reject any trade deal that hurts America.

4) She will stand up to China on trade. 

As president, Clinton said she would appoint a chief trade prosecutor that reports directly to her. China, in her opinion, is the biggest abuser of trade regulations, especially in terms of steel — “something you know a lot about here in Pennsylvania.”

Clinton said that China, as well as other countries, have been illegally dumping “artificially cheap” steel into our markets. By doing so, they give themselves an unfair advantage by reducing the price of steel, and American steel workers suffer as a result.

5) Clinton has a Pennsylvania connection. 

Early on in her speech, Clinton declared that “Pennsylvania has always been a special place for me,” because it is where her grandfather and his family arrived — in Scranton, more specifically — as immigrants in the late 1880s. Her grandfather worked for 50 years in the Scranton lace mills, Clinton said, and she spent time in the state as a child.

“People who made things were given respect and dignity, and we’ve got to get back to doing that,” she said.

6) She didn’t forget to shout out the new national champion Villanova Wildcats

Immediately after taking the podium, Clinton spoke about how she and her husband intently watched the Wildcats take down UNC on Monday while they sat on the edge of their seats.

“It was so exciting and nearly made my husband forget, and forgive, Villanova for beating his alma mater, Georgetown, back in 1985.”

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary will take place on April 26th. Clinton leads Sanders in recent polls, but Sanders has momentum coming off his recent wins. Sanders is scheduled to address the AFL-CIO convention on Thursday.

Follow @BrettMKlein on Twitter.