Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton rallied progressives in Houston Friday while speaking optimistically about the Democratic Party’s future in Texas.
In one of her few public appearances since the election, Clinton spoke to a crowd of about 2,500 at the Marriott Marquis Houston Downtown during a fundraising luncheon for Annie’s List, a Texas organization focused on recruiting and training women to run for office.
Patsy Woods Martin, the group’s executive director, called Clinton “the woman that should be president.” The former secretary of state was introduced by Texas Democratic mega-fundraiser Amber Anderson Mostyn.
“Oh, Texas!” Clinton exclaimed. “I think that this crowd sends exactly the right message about what’s going to happen in Texas in 2018.”
Before delving into state and national politics, Clinton addressed the “most recent deadly gas attack” in Syria and the Trump administration’s response.
“It is essential that the world does more to deter Assad from committing future murderous atrocities,” she said. “The action taken last night needs to be followed by a broader strategy to end Syria’s civil war, and to eliminate ISIS’ stronghold on both sides of the border.
“I also hope that they will recognize that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies, and in the next close America’s doors to them,” Clinton added.
Clinton chose to go with “the administration” instead of naming President Donald Trump throughout her speech, and though she offered critiques, her speech was mostly about women in Texas politics and how to turn the state blue.
Clinton reminisced on her first visit to Texas, where she said she “fell in love” with the state. She was 24, visiting to register voters in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas on behalf of the Democratic National Committee.
“I went dancing at the Armadillo in Austin. I swam in Lake Travis, probably illegally. I ate a lot of enchiladas verdes at Mi Tierra in San Antonio. Drank my share of Shiner, ate way too much mango ice cream from the Menger Hotel. Crossed the border — in those days it wasn’t that hard,” Clinton said.
Clinton highlighted some of the positives for Texas Democrats in the November election: It was the “closest presidential election” in two decades and she won the Harris County vote by 12 percentage points, along with three Republican congressional districts in Texas.
“A lot of the best young Democrats in America are right here in Texas, and that’s especially true for young Democratic women,” said Clinton. She mentioned state representatives Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, and Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, both of whom are in their first term and were endorsed by Annie’s List.
State Representative Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, received a shout-out, too. Clinton mentioned Farrar’s “A Man’s Right To Know Act,” or House Bill 4260, which would fine men for masturbating and force men to be given a booklet when seeking Viagra, vasectomies or colonoscopies, similar to the obligatory “A Woman’s Right To Know” booklet Texas women receive when seeking abortions.
“The bill may be satirical, but the message sure resonated with women everywhere,” Clinton said.
At one point, Clinton put her elbows up on the podium, furrowed her brows and spoke in an “over it” tone about the recent GOP health care fail in Congress.
“When you seriously try to kick millions of women and families off their health insurance, when you believe it would be the right thing to do for your political base to defund Planned Parenthood even though the majority of America disagrees with you,” Clinton said, “that is not empowering women, that is just meanness, that is cruelty.”
The event raised an estimated $1 million, according to Margaret Justus, the media coordinator for the event.