Hillary Clinton made the case for being president at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Wednesday, telling the crowd that she’s the candidate who will get things done.
The former U.S. senator from New York said that she and her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have the same goals, but that his plans are not realistic. She refuted Sanders’ criticism that she doesn’t think big enough.
“This is New York,” she said. “Nobody dreams bigger than we do, but this is a city that likes to get things done.”
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who introduced Clinton, said she has shown she delivers from her time as senator.
“She instinctively turns her concern and her anger at the plight of the middle class to action, and that is what we need,” he said.
“She may not always talk like we Brooklynites talk,” he added in a heavy Brooklyn accent. “But when she speaks out, she changes minds, she changes hearts, she moves to action and she changes outcomes.”
“Hamilton” star Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler) also gave her support to Clinton and sang the national anthem. New York Congressman Charles Rangel and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were also in attendance.
The crowd cheered when Clinton spoke about her advocacy for education, equal pay and supporting the middle class. But it went silent when Clinton spoke about how she stood with New Yorkers as they came back from the 9/11 terrorist attack.
“They projected a sense of strength and unity that comforted the whole country,” she said. She spoke about how she and Schumer fought for federal funding to rebuild downtown Manhattan and to give the first responders the health care they needed.
The crowd booed loudly any time Clinton mentioned Republican candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz. She specifically denounced Trump for advocating for a wall on the U.S. border and calling for a ban on travel from Muslim countries.
“New Yorkers know better. Our diversity is a strength, not a weakness,” she said. “New York represents the best of America, and together we can face down the worst.”
Supporters filled the Apollo hours before Clinton took the stage to speak. Some held campaign signs that read, “Fighting for us.” Others brought homemade signs, with phrases like “Welcome Home Hillary.”
Before Clinton spoke, songs by her celebrity supporters Katy Perry and Beyoncé played on the speakers as the crowd chanted “I believe that she will win,” and “President! Madame!”
Her supporters reiterated Clinton’s own reasons for voting for the former secretary of state over Sanders in the primary.
Heidi Arthur, 43, of Harlem, who took her two young daughters out of school to attend the rally, said she thinks Clinton and Sanders share many policy positions.
“But she has a pragmatic, real deep political understanding to get things done, to make compromises that are critical to leading a country,” Arthur said.
The Rev. Bienvenido Manon, 53, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, gave a similar reason for choosing Clinton.
“What Bernie Sanders proposes is dreams,” he said. “He’s going to tax Wall Street? Come on, please. We live in America. We’re not living in the jungle.”
Manon, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, said while he thinks President Barack Obama is a good president, his campaign message was also full of dreams.
“No more dreams,” he said. “We want to see reality.”
Kiara Balliram, 29, came to the rally from New Jersey to see how Clinton speaks and meet some of her supporters. Balliram said she is still undecided, but leaning toward Clinton.
“I do agree with her on a lot of issues,” she said. “But I don’t know what to think of what I hear in the news concerning her emails and the Benghazi scandal.”
Not surprisingly, Clinton didn’t bring up her emails or Benghazi in her speech.
She concluded the rally with a story about Mohammad Salman Hamdani, the Pakistani American scientist, NYPD cadet and paramedic who died trying to help people in the aftermath of 9/11. In the weeks after the attacks, when he was reported missing, he was at first thought to be a suspect, but when his body was found, he was hailed as a hero.
“Mohammad was an immigrant, he was a New Yorker, he was an American and he died trying to help others live,” she said. “It’s up to us to make sure that his and so many others’ sacrifice still counts for something. We do that by standing up against bigotry in all its forms, by celebrating heroism wherever we find it and by doing our part to serve others.”