Monday 9 December 2019

House Democrats cheer Clinton in first Capitol Hill meeting

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi escorts Hillary Clinton after a Democratic caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi escorts Hillary Clinton after a Democratic caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)

Hillary Clinton has received a rousing reception from House Democrats, making her first stop on Capitol Hill since clinching the Democratic nomination.

Greeted by chants of "Hillary, Hillary", the presumptive Democratic nominee promised to use her massive campaign infrastructure to help Democrats win congressional races as part of what she called a "50 state strategy".

"She said: 'I know the difference between having the House and not having the House, and I want the House," recalled Representative Jim McDermott.

So far, Mrs Clinton has focused much of her efforts on traditional battleground states, though she told Democrats that her efforts may expand to include Georgia. Some Democrats point to recent demographic changes in that traditionally GOP state as a sign that it could be winnable for their party, particularly with Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.

Democrats stressed the unity within their party, drawing a contrast with Republicans, some of whom have offered only lukewarm support for Mr Trump.

"I love my candidate for president," said Representative Joe Crowley. "I'd love to be a fly on the wall on July 7th and see what affection they have for their candidate." House Republicans meet with Mr Trump that day.

While Democrats have largely united around Mrs Clinton, she is struggling to win over the young and liberal voters who supported rival Senator Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator has not yet endorsed Mrs Clinton or conceded the nomination to her - though he seems to be slowly shifting that position.

"It doesn't appear that I'm gonna be the nominee," he said, in a Wednesday interview with CSPAN, when asked if he will speak at the convention.

Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders's campaigns are discussing ways of addressing key economic issues in the Democratic platform which will be approved at the Philadelphia convention, including trade, providing free college tuition and cutting student debt and expanding Medicare and Social Security.

"That is a problem for the party," said Representative Jim Clyburn. "I would love to see Mr Sanders endorse. Go all in."

Democrats said there was little discussion of Mr Sanders or Mr Trump in the meeting, which was more like a pep rally for Mrs Clinton's campaign. At one point, the members ribbed Representative Xavier Becerra - who has been mentioned as a possible running mate - when he poured Mrs Clinton a glass of water.

"It was a thing of beauty," joked Mr Crowley, who shouted, "you're really working it," after Mr Becerra jumped up in the meeting.

Mr Becerra later said that he is not currently being vetted as a potential running mate.

"I really don't have knowledge," he said, before acknowledging that he has not been notified by the campaign that he is under consideration.

Other potential contenders, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, have been informed that Mrs Clinton has begun eyeing them for the role.


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