MIAMI: Hillary Clinton launched a broadside Friday against White House rival Jeb Bush, accusing the Republican in his home state of failing to tackle discrimination or improve conditions for minorities.
Clinton spoke at a National Urban League leadership conference north of Miami, where Bush took the same stage nearly an hour later but declined to respond in kind to the Democratic frontrunner´s remarks.
The two most high-profile 2016 candidates addressed the delicate issues of structural poverty, race in America, and income and education inequality.
Clinton used a Bush slogan “Right to Rise,” which is also the name of the leading political action committee backing Bush´s candidacy to castigate him for shortcomings of his tenure as Florida governor.
“Too often we see a mismatch between what some candidates say in venues like this and what they actually do when they are elected,” Clinton told the audience.
“I don´t think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise and then say you´re for phasing out Medicare or repealing Obamacare,” she added.
“They can´t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on. They can´t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education. And you can not seriously talk about the right to rise and support laws that deny the right to vote.”
Democrats have accused Republicans of seeking to roll back the Voting Rights Act, which sought to ensure blacks have equal rights to vote.
Clinton went considerably further than Bush in highlighting the role race still plays in determining “who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.”
While that is partly a legacy that stretches back centuries, “it is also because of discrimination that is still ongoing,” she said, as she recalled the names of several young unarmed black men recently killed in police-involved shootings across America.
“These names are emblazoned on our hearts,” she said.
Bush spoke far less about the crisis involving the policing of American communities and more about his revolutionizing Florida´s school system including launching charter schools.
But he did cite his 2001 removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Florida Capitol and placing it in a museum, describing his action as “an easy call.”
And he gave a nod to President Barack Obama´s efforts to bring healing to a nation grieving over deadly racist attacks.
“When Obama says that, for too long we´ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present, he´s speaking truth,” Bush said.
Later Friday Clinton was to give a speech in which she calls on Congress to lift the trade embargo on Cuba.
Bush and most other Republican presidential contenders have expressed opposition to dismantling US laws that have severely restricted trade between the Cold War foes for more than half a century.