Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren used their first joint appearance on the campaign trail to make a decidedly populist appeal to voters in the battleground state of Ohio, and to cast Donald Trump as a narcissist less concerned with working-class Americans than his own profitability.
Before a raucous crowd of nearly 2,000, cheers reverberating across the half-dome of Cincinnati’s historic Union Terminal, Clinton took the stage with the senator from Massachusetts, a hero to many progressive voters. As Republicans remain reluctant to embrace Trump, it was a show of Democratic unity.
Warren laid into the presumptive GOP nominee, characterizing him with a now familiar line as a “small, insecure money-grubber who fights for no one but himself”.
“I’m here today because I’m with her,” she said, as Clinton stood by her side. “She doesn’t whine. She doesn’t run to Twitter to call her opponents fat pigs or dummies.
“Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States because she knows what it takes to beat a thin-skinned bully who is driven by greed and hate.”
Though Clinton also took aim at Trump, she focused her remarks on the economy. Detailing proposals to lift working- and middle-class incomes, she touted plans to raise the minimum wage, rein in big banks and corporations, make college debt-free, and invest in infrastructure and manufacturing.
Warren has criticized Clinton for her close ties to Wall Street and did not offer an endorsement until the Democratic primary was over. But there was no sign of any tension in Cincinnati, as she reacted enthusiastically to almost every line in Clinton’s speech – pumping her fist in the air and even jumping up and down, hands clasped.
In return, Clinton showered praise on Warren, delighting in the ease with which she has rankled Trump by giving him a taste of his own medicine in scathing speeches and attacks delivered on Twitter.
“I must say I do just love to see how she gets under Donald Trump’s thin skin,” Clinton said. “She exposes him for what he is: temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be president of the United States.”
Some hoped the sight of Clinton and Warren locking hands before a sign that read “Stronger Together” was a preview of the Democratic ticket this fall. Although it remains unlikely that Warren will be Clinton’s vice-presidential pick, she has been featured on a short list of contenders. In the crowd, someone held up a sign that read: “Girl Power”.
Earlier in June, Warren endorsed Clinton and paid a visit to the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters. The senator is viewed as an asset who can help galvanize progressive voters – particularly those who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary.
Polling has shown that Sanders supporters are slowly warming to Clinton but are not yet prepared to back her overwhelmingly. An NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey found roughly 45% of Sanders supporters now hold a favorable view of Clinton. A Bloomberg Politics poll found that 55% of those who voted for Sanders plan to support Clinton.
The enthusiasm in Cincinnati was many ways redolent of a Sanders rally, the crowd’s roars often filling the room.
Warren and Clinton zeroed in on Trump’s response to Britain’s vote in favor of leaving the European Union. In a bizarre press conference in Scotland on Friday, Trump appeared to relish in the moment, claiming the economic fallout from “Brexit” could boost business at his Turnberry golf resort.
“What kind of a man roots for people to lose their jobs, to lose their homes, to lose their life’s savings?” Warren said.
Clinton said Trump “tried to turn a global economic challenge into an infomercial”.
For Clinton, the rally was also an opportunity to assure liberals she will not abandon a progressive platform simply because the Democratic nomination has been secured.
“I got into this race because I wanted to even the odds for people who have the odds stacked against them,” she said. “This is not a time for half-measures. To build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, we have got to go big and we have got to go bold.”
The message is likely to resonate in Ohio, where working-class voters hold an outsized influence. Trump, however, has also capitalized on anger among the economically disenfranchised.
Responding to the Clinton-Warren event on Monday, he referred to Warren as a “sellout” and continued to deride her as “Pocahontas”, in reference to her claim of Native American heritage.
“Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud,” Trump told NBC. “She made up her heritage … I think she’s a racist.”
“I would love to compete with her,” he added, vowing to “speak very openly about her” if she was selected as Clinton’s VP.
In Cincinnati, members of the crowd said it was Trump who was seizing on xenophobia and racism by exploiting people’s fears over immigration.
“I cannot support someone that is in my opinion racist and bigoted,” said Lori Farmer, a registered Republican from Cincinnati who said she would vote for Clinton.
“I think she’s experienced, I think that she’s even-tempered, and I think that she stands for inclusion.”
Joe Sandman, also a Cincinnati native, said he was concerned Trump was “appealing to racism and anger”.
“That’s a very powerful emotion and it might bring people out to the polls,” he said. “But I have confidence in our American people, that they’ll look at all the ridiculous and dangerous things he said and say, ‘This man is not equipped to be president’.”