Last night at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel uptown, Bill and Hillary Clinton paid tribute to Reverend Calvin Butts, III, who presides over the congregation at one the most prestigious black churches in the city. He also endorsed Clinton over Barack Obama during the Democratic presidential primary.
The event was part of the 200th anniversary celebration of the Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem. It was also an opportunity for Butts to publicly reconnect with members and supporters of the church who overwhelmingly supported Obama.
After praising both Clintons’ work in education and health care, Butts said, “So, when I stand with the Clintons, I stand with them for good reason.” He went on, “And a man or woman of integrity will always do that, even at personal cost. However, that is not to say that I am not overjoyed at Barack Obama as president of the United States.”
Hillary Clinton broke with her custom of wearing pantsuits in favor of a floor-length dress. She jokingly told the crowd, “Even I could not have imagined that as part of the 200th anniversary celebration of this renowned house of worship you would time it to coincide with the election of Barack Obama as our next president.” The crowd applauded enthusiastically, and Clinton smiled.
When he spoke, Bill Clinton said the country faces enormous difficulties. But, he went on, it’s those difficulties “that enabled the epic contest between Hillary and Barack Obama, which proved that two glass ceilings no longer exist in America.” He added, “It is that difficulty that gives us the ability to make a new beginning.”
Michael Bloomberg, Bill Thompson and Scott Stringer were also there.