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Clinton Derides GOP For Going From 'Party Of Lincoln' To 'Party Of Trump'

Hillary Clinton spoke Wednesday at the Old State House in Springfield, Ill.
Andrew Harnik
Hillary Clinton spoke Wednesday at the Old State House in Springfield, Ill.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

"The challenges we face today do not approach those of Lincoln's time, not even close, and we should be very clear about that. But recent events have left people across America asking hard questions about whether we are still a house divided," Clinton said.

Clinton spoke of healing and resisting the urge to tear one another down following the shooting deaths of African-American men at the hands of police in Baton Rouge, La., and in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., as well as the subsequent killings of five police officers in Dallas last week.

She acknowledged the difficult task of reconciling the calls for police and criminal justice reform while simultaneously urging the public to show deference to the "dedicated, principled police officers" working to rebuild trust with the communities they protect and serve.

"Let's put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to a dangerous job we need them to do," Clinton said.

"Let's put ourselves in the shoes of African-Americans and Latinos, and try as best we can to imagine what it would be like if we had to have 'the talk' with our kids about how carefully they need to act because the slightest wrong move could get them hurt or killed."

Clinton, who was attempting to position herself as a unifying figure, said the nation's future depends on how we, as a nation, handle this moment — it is one which she said must be met with "honesty and courage."

Then she pivoted to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

She painted Trump as "dangerous" for the country and ticked off a litany of Trump's controversial statements against women and Muslims, about deportations of 11 million people, among others.

"This man is the nominee of the party of Lincoln. We are watching it become the party of Trump. And that's not just a huge loss for our democracy — it is a threat to it."

Clinton's speech came just a day after she picked up the long-awaited endorsement from her chief primary rival, Bernie Sanders, and just days before the start of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.