Hillary Clinton got a warm welcome at the 30th anniversary Emily’s List gala Tuesday night, calling for equal pay and paid leave before a crowd that’s worked to elect pro-choice Democratic women for decades.
Accepting the fundraising group’s “We Are Emily” award, the former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic presidential front runner gave a taste of the “middle-class economics” she’ll likely campaign on, calling for greater protection of labor unions and taking digs at Republicans’ “old trickle-down economics.”
“We’re fighting for an economy that includes everyone and works for everyone,” Clinton said.
Even when she wasn’t on stage, Clinton was the topic of the night. Nearly every speaker at the two-hour event referenced her still officially unannounced campaign. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who opened the event, called her “our next President.” Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who started his speech by jokingly apologizing for being a man, suggested her first granddaughter refer to both Clintons as “POTUS,” instead of grandma or grandpa. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said Clinton would be one of the “most qualified Presidents in the history of the United States of America.”
Pelosi added, “And she just happens to be a woman.”
“Do you want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States?” Emily’s List founder Ellen Malcolm asked the crowd, which immediately erupted into roaring applause.
“Well, Hillary, you heard us,” Malcolm said before the program paused for dinner. “Just give the word and we’ll be right at your side. We’re Emily’s List. We’re ready to fight and we’re ready to win 2016.”
The other star of the night was Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who announced Monday that she won’t run for another term in office. Clinton, who is known for wearing practical pantsuits, referenced Mikulski’s 1993 fight to overturn a precedent that required women to wear skirts and dresses on the Senate floor.
“She blazed a path forward,” Clinton said. “And among her many accomplishments, one that I’m particularly grateful for, was when she forced the Senate to allow women to wear pantsuits on the floor.”