Election 2020

Hillary to NAACP: Trump 'Led Insidious Birther Movement to Discredit President’s Citizenship'

Hillary Clinton speaks at the NAACP's 61st annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner in Detroit on May 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Hillary Clinton told the Detroit NAACP dinner on Sunday night that the November election is about “unity versus division, compassion versus selfishness, and love versus hate” — and “the stakes don’t get much higher than that.”

With “challenges of politics and policy,” Clinton stressed in her keynote address, “they really all do come down to our hearts.”

“Do we believe that all Americans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect? Or do we think that some children are less worthy, some families less valuable, some people less than because of their race, religion, income, gender, identity or some other ugly excuse? In other words, do we want America to be a place where, as Langston Hughes put it, equality is in the air we breathe? Or should we hold fast to what he called that same old stupid plan of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak?” she asked the crowd.

“…For many white Americans it’s tempting to believe that systemic racism is largely behind us. After all, that would leave us with a whole lot less work to do, wouldn’t it? But anyone asking for your vote has a responsibility to see things as they actually are, not as we wish them to be.”

Clinton added, “Imagine if white kids were 500 percent more likely to die from asthma than black kids. Imagine if a white baby in parts of this country was twice as likely to die before her first birthday than a black baby. Imagine the outcry.”

The former senator advocated for ending racial profiling, the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, giving job opportunities to people out of prison, restoring voting rights to felons, and ending “the tragedy of African-Americans being killed by incidents involving the police.”

She added that “no politician should show up at election time and say the right things and think that’s enough.”

“Anybody asking for a vote should show you what their commitment is and what they will do to right the wrongs that plague our great country,” she said.

“We’ve got some candidates in this race who are trying to divide us. We’ve got some candidates in this race who are stoking hatred and inciting violence. We’ve got some candidates in this race who are trying to set Americans against one another. We’ve got some candidates in this race who act as though Americans have no memory. So hold all of us accountable. Ask the hard questions. We deserve leaders who will tear down barriers, not build walls between us.”

Clinton described Donald Trump as “the man who led the insidious birther movement to discredit the president’s citizenship.”

“And when he was asked in a national television interview to disavow David Duke and other white supremacists who are supporting his campaign, he played coy,” she said. “We cannot let Barack Obama’s legacy fall into Donald Trump’s hands. We can’t let all the hard work and progress we have achieved over the last seven and a half years be torn away. We have to move forward together. We have to bring our country together. We have to keep working toward that more perfect union. That mission feels more urgent than ever now that the Obama presidency is coming to a close.”

She promised the audience that her administration “will look like America.”

“You will always have a friend and a partner in the White House,” Clinton vowed. “But I need your help, your wisdom, and your prayers in this campaign and then every day afterwards.”