Hillary Clinton In Harlem: "If Fighting For Equal Pay Is Playing The Gender Card, Deal Me In!"

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks onstage in Harlem at the Apollo Theater on March 30 in New York City. New York will hold its primaries on April 19.
Laura Ferrelli was among the first supporters to walk through the doors on Wednesday morning at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Decked out in a "Bill for First Lady" shirt with buttons that read "Dump Trump" and "Hillary 2016," the 28-year-old therapist said her reason for supporting the former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate is simple.

"I like Hillary because I think she'll be able to get shit done," Ferrelli told Refinery29. "I'm liberal, but I don't like Bernie because I think he's too focused on starting a revolution. I don't think he'll be able to compromise, and I think a good leader needs to be able to work with other people who don't agree with them."

Clinton took the stage before a packed audience at the historic theater, pledging to tackle income inequality, gun control, racial inequality, and the gender pay gap. She was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, with whom she served for eight years as a senator in New York before becoming Secretary of State.

You know, loose cannons tend to misfire, and in a dangerous world, that’s not a gamble we can afford.

Hillary Clinton
"Anyone running for president this year faces three big tests. First, can you deliver results that improve people’s lives? Second, can you keep us safe? Third, can you bring our country together again?" Clinton said to the crowd.

She also remarked on Republican candidate Donald Trump's criticism that she plays "the woman card."

"If fighting for equal pay and paid family leave is playing the gender card, then deal me in!" she said.

Both Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are campaigning in New York ahead of the state's April 19 primary. Sanders is set to hold his own rally on Thursday at St. Mary's Park in the Bronx. Clinton is currently leading the Democratic race with 1,243 delegates pledged (more than half of the number she needs to earn the party's nomination), but Sanders is not far behind with 975 delegates.

It's unclear whether the two will face off in a debate before the primary. Clinton had previously faced criticism after her campaign strategist implied in an interview with CNN that she would not debate Sanders because of his "tone." Clinton has since said that she is open to the possibility of debating Sanders in Brooklyn.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Clinton speaks with reporters at Make My Cake in Harlem before her appearance at the Apollo Theater on Wednesday.
Clinton addressed criticism from Sanders that her policies don't go far enough to tackle income inequality and tax the rich.

"My opponent says we’re just not thinking big enough. Well, this is New York. Nobody dreams bigger than we do," Clinton said, referring to the state as her home. The Clintons own a house in Chappaqua, which they bought in 1999 for $1.7 million, according to The New York Times.

"But this is a city that likes to get things done, and that’s what we want from our president, too. We need a president who will help break down all of the barriers holding back Americans, not just some. I take a backseat to no one in taking on income inequality," she added.

Clinton also took aim at her Republican rivals, namely Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, on national security and foreign policy.

I know how hard it is to break down the barriers, I know what it takes to get through the door and stay there. I have to respect her resilience, her commitment, and her experience.

Vy Higginsen, author and radio host
"On the Republican side, what we’re hearing is truly scary. When Donald Trump talks casually about using torture and allowing more countries to get nuclear weapons, or when Ted Cruz calls for treating American Muslims like criminals and racially profiling Muslim neighborhoods, that doesn’t make them sound strong. It makes them sound in over their heads. You know, loose cannons tend to misfire, and in a dangerous world, that’s not a gamble we can afford," Clinton said.

Jasmine Schoemberger and Elisa Pavanello, two roommates from Queens, both said foreign-policy experience is high up on their list of priorities in the 2016 race.

"She has a strong foreign-policy record and it's very important right now in this unstable world," said Schoemberger, a student.

Schoemberger said the fact that Clinton is a woman wasn't the most important factor. But Pavanello said it was "very important."

"She would be the first Madam President in the U.S., so it's a big thing," Pavanello, an intern at the United Nations, said.

Vy Higginsen, a lifelong Harlem resident, author, playwright, producer, and radio host, echoed this sentiment.

"It's important to me as a woman. I'm a person that has had a lot of firsts... I know how hard it is to break down the barriers, I know what it takes to get through the door and stay there. I have to respect her resilience, her commitment, and her experience to deliver not just words but actions," Higginsen said.

Lilli Petersen contributed reporting from New York.

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