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Clinton Picks A Park With No Ceiling, Glass Or Otherwise, For Launch


Hillary Clinton has been officially running for president for a couple of months now, but she's kept a small-scale events with voters and steered far clear of the press. Yesterday, she took to the main stage with her first major political rally. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, she kept to the familiar from this bedrock Democratic platform to the location of the rally itself.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: To give her big campaign-defining speech, Hillary Clinton chose Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York. Roosevelt as in Franklin D.; the iconic Democratic president. Clinton seemed to channel his economic philosophy.


PRES CAND HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: And you know what? America can't succeed unless you succeed.


CLINTON: That is why I am running for president of the United States.


KEITH: Clinton listed about a dozen areas where she plans to offer detailed proposals in the coming months, from college affordability to paid family leave. The speech was relatively light on foreign-policy, something Republicans were quick to criticize. And it didn't include a single mention of the most hot-button issue in Democratic politics today - trade. But for those in the crowd of about 5,000, there was plenty to cheer. Jan Mundo is 67 and plans to volunteer for the campaign.

JAN MUNDO: I just feel like she gets it. And people that don't get it, I'm sorry - but that don't get that she gets it, but she does.

KEITH: As supporters entered the park in the morning, they were greeted by Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook.


ROBBY MOOK: Thank you for being here today. Thank you for your support. You can show your support by wearing a hat, button, maybe a magnet for your car or your fridge.

KEITH: The event had the feel of a music festival complete with performances from the band EchoSmith.


ECHOSMITH: (Singing) I wish that I could be like the cool kids, like the cool kids.

KEITH: At 67 years old, Clinton has something of a challenge proving she can relate to the cool kids; that she represents the future and not the past. Twenty-four-year-old Jackson Dartez is one of the voters she needs to reach. He was wearing a bright-yellow shirt that says Yaaas Hillary.

JACKSON DARTEZ: It's an expression of praise.

KEITH: But even after watching her speech, he described himself as undecided.

DARTEZ: I love Bernie Sanders, and truth be told, I'm probably still undecided for my primary vote. I fully expect Secretary Clinton to make it all the way to the general, though, and I will support her wholeheartedly in that election.

KEITH: Candidates on both the left and the right are taking aim at Clinton, talking about the need for generational change this election. And near the end of her speech, Clinton addressed it head on saying she offered a different kind of change.


CLINTON: Well, I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of United States.


KEITH: And, she pointed out, the scenic park where she was giving her speech had absolutely no ceilings. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.