FORT LEE – Just blocks away from the entrance to the George Washington Bridge, the Fort Lee Senior Center was bursting at the seams with supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. The crowd was there to see Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the presidential hopeful, stump for her mom and answer questions about what a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean for New Jersey and the U.S.
Clinton’s visit to the Garden State comes just two weeks before the New Jersey primary. Usually subjected to a state of irrelevancy because of the June date, this year the primary is still competitive due to the tenacity of the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Even so, Clinton’s words at the Fort Lee event primarily focused on the competition her mother will face if she wins the New Jersey primary against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“This election feels so personal to me because I am a parent now,” said Clinton, currently expecting her second child. According to Clinton, the rhetoric coming from Trump’s campaign—which she said includes islamaphobia, homophobia, racism and sexism—is not indicative of a country where she wants her children to grow up.
“None of that is what I want to see for the country,” Clinton said. “My mom understands how to make and also protect change.”
While Clinton acknowledged that she was “deeply biased” toward her mother’s candidacy, she said she also was the right candidate to move the country in a positive direction. To demonstrate that, Clinton cited her mother’s work on education in Arkansas, adoption/foster care reform and her work as the secretary of state, particularly on the treatment of girls and women as a priority worldwide. According to Clinton, her mother will pursue immigration reform, reward innovation in manufacturing that can bring job growth to the United States and work toward making college debt-free for Americans if elected.
While the crowd at the senior center was filled mostly with supporters, a number of Democratic officials from Bergen County also came to show their support for Clinton. Officials present included Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, County Executive Jim Tedesco, Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38), Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (D-37), Bergen County Clerk John Hogan and Vice Chair of the Bergen Democrats Gloria Oh. When Clinton first took the stage, she was introduced by Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato, a longtime Clinton supporter.
“New Jersey is clearly Hillary Country,” Stellato said. “Our primary is pretty late and usually pretty uneventful but on June 7, New Jersey will make Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee.” According to Stellato, while New Jersey is not the only state voting on June 7, the primary will close three hours ahead of California’s primary that day, securing the nomination.
As Stellato introduced Clinton, he opened with a “traffic” joke, an reference to the infamous Bridgegate scandal. He also criticized New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his close ties to Trump.
The Fort Lee event was not Chelsea Clinton’s only stop in New Jersey on Tuesday. Earlier in the day she appeared at the Passaic County office opening in Woodland Park. After the Fort Lee event she made her way to a Latinos for Hillary organizing event at the Flamboyan in Newark’s North Ward. The Newark event was attended by the likes of Councilman Luis Qiintana, Councilman Carlos Gonzalez, Councilman Anibal Ramos, Councilman John Sharpe James, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, state Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, and Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.
The New Jersey primary will be held on June 7.