Congressman Ruben Gallego is Arizona’s latest elected official to throw his weight behind a presidential candidate. He announced this morning that he officially endorses former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.
Citing “a sea change in how Americans view progressive issues,” and a desire to continue the “progressive” wins and legacy of Barack Obama, he calls Clinton “our best-known, most experienced, most electable candidate.”
In a statement posted on Medium that uses the term “progressive” no fewer than 25 times, Gallego writes, “Secretary Clinton grew up in the progressive movement, motivated by the same audacity to change the world that has always drawn grassroots organizers to our causes and ideals.
“Like many progressives, she has spent years fighting for issues that have only recently become popular . . . Clinton’s progressive credentials are in sync with her progressive agenda. And that agenda is well crafted to this time in the progressive movement — a time in which we are both focused on preserving the gains of the Obama era while also looking to new policy goals.”
He calls Clinton “a progressive who is fighting for immigration reform, for a higher minimum wage, for campaign finance reform, for more labor rights, for broader access to healthcare, for health rights for women, for LGBT rights, for more affordable education . . . and just about anything else you could name on any progressive’s wish list.”
Gallego’s announcement comes two days after the second Democratic presidential debate and at a time when Clinton is receiving backlash for something she said about Wall Street banks.
She was responding to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' comment that she is obliged to Wall Street’s agenda because its cronies have donated a great deal of money to her over the years:
“I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan, where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”
Social media exploded with people who were furious that she would try to capitalize on the terror of 9/11 to justify taking money from big banks.
Even the Editorial Board of the New York Times chimed in about the incident: “Her effort to tug on Americans’ heartstrings instead of explaining her Wall Street ties — on a day that the scars of 9/11 were exposed anew — was at best botched rhetoric. At worst, it was the type of cynical move that Mrs. Clinton would have condemned in Republicans.
“She should make a fast, thorough effort to explain herself by providing a detailed plan for how she would promote measures protecting middle-class Americans from another financial crisis.”
A spokesman for Gallego, Andy Barr, tells New Times that the timing of the endorsement has nothing to do with the debate and that the congressman “has been thinking more about what he wanted to say with the endorsement than the timing.”
Gallego’s endorsement, which also comes a few weeks after his colleague, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, announced he was endorsing Sanders, does not mention either of the other Democratic candidates.
Sanders is widely considered the most “progressive” or liberal of the three candidates, and when asked why Gallego is choosing to endorse Clinton over him, Barr says only: “I’d refer you to Ruben’s piece in terms of [Clinton’s] progressive credentials.”
The latest national polls show Clinton still is by far the most popular Democratic candidate in the field, coming in with 54.5 percent of the vote, according to Real Clear Politics. (Sanders has 33.5 percent, and Martin O’Malley has 2.8 percent.)
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Clinton is hugely ahead of the the other candidates in terms of official endorsements, as Gallego represents the 437th congressional member or governor to support her. (Sanders has two, and O’Malley has one.)
“Secretary Clinton not only represents the best chance for progressives to continue to hold the White House, she also demonstrates the strongest ability to maintain the broad and diverse Obama coalition that brought us wins for health care, marriage equality, and the environment,” Gallego writes.
“Clinton’s campaign is a test for the broader progressive movement, as well as all of our diverse groups and interests. Can we unite behind a strong candidate who so clearly represents our values and is so well equipped to build on our recent victories?
“If progressives are ready to embrace the responsibility that comes with our wins during the Obama era, the answer is: Yes We Can.”