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Hillary Clinton stumps for gun laws, pay equality at Alexandria stop

© Leesburg Today - 10/23/2015

Surrounded by supporters and without a House Benghazi Committee member in sight, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laid out her vision for the future at an Oct. 23 campaign stop in Alexandria.

""We're facing a very stark choice,"" Clinton told the crowd. ""Either we're going to build on the progress we've made under President Obama or we're going to give Republicans another chance to tear down everything we've worked so hard to build.""

The afternoon event, held in the market square in front of City Hall, was a welcoming environment compared with Clinton's previous day, when she had spent 11 hours being grilled by a House of Representatives committee regarding the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012.

Buoyed by the warm, sunny autumn day and the throngs of sign-waving Democrats, Clinton said Republicans would rather that voters forget the economic crisis Obama had to overcome in his first term.

She agreed with Vice President Biden that ""Democrats should be proud of that achievement and defend it.""

The former First Lady, who also served as a U.S. senator and as Secretary of State under Obama, struck an upbeat note.

""When I look at what we have to do, I'm filled with excitement and optimism,"" she said. ""I'm not running for President Obama's third term, I'm not running for Bill Clinton's third term. I'm running for my first term.""

Clinton inveighed against Republicans' opposition to Medicaid expansion in Virginia and pay inequalities between men and women. She also favored paid family leave and tougher gun laws.

""How many more people have to die before we take action?"" asked Clinton, adding that about 90 Americans each day die from gunshot wounds.

Clinton said having a grandchild has strengthened her desire to expand opportunities for future generations of Americans.

""I don't think you should have to be the granddaughter of a former president to be able to claim the promise of America,"" she said.

Clinton was accompanied on stage by Gov. McAuliffe, who highlighted his economic successes and anti-discrimination initiatives and said Americans could expect similar progressive efforts from Clinton.

""We know that Hillary Clinton is a fighter and has been a fighter all her life,"" McAuliffe said, adding, ""Folks, she's got it all.""

Lola Quintela, Clinton's petition coordinator in Virginia, also praised the Democratic presidential contender's positions on firearms, women's rights and pay equality.

""She is our champion and she's got our back,"" Quintela said.

Jeremy McPike, a Democrat seeking Virginia's 29th state Senate seat, lauded McAuliffe's accomplishments and expressed support for Clinton.

""We must build a future where our families cannot just get by, but get ahead,"" McPike said.

Clinton waded into the front section of the crowd following her speech and shook hands with supporters, many of whom took videos of her with smart-phones held aloft.

Before the speeches, loudspeakers blared approximately the same 10 or so songs (including Kelly Clarkson's ""Stronger"" and Pharrell Williams' ""Happy"") over and over.

Supporters at the event carried signs proclaiming ""I Am Counting on Clinton,"" ""Estoy Contigo"" (Spanish for ""I am with you""), ""Young Feminists Mobilizing,"" ""Vets for Hillary"" and ""ERA Yes,"" using the same white logo on green background from the failed effort in the 1970s and '80s to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

One woman held aloft a hand-lettered sign on a brown-paper grocery bag that read ""American Dream, Not a Handout""; another lifted up a purple placard saying ""Elect Women Now"" and had her mouth taped shut with a sticker labeled, ""Trust Women.""

Franconia-area Del. Mark Sickles (D-43rd), who attended the rally, said Clinton is a strong leader who ""hit all the right points"" regarding gun laws and burgeoning student loan debt.

""It's a great day,"" Sickles said. ""She fired me up.""

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