Clinton rips rival Bush on his home turf01 august 2015, 13:44
Hillary Clinton launched a broadside Friday against White House rival Jeb Bush, accusing the Republican in his home state of failing to tackle discrimination or improve conditions for minorities, AFP reports.
Clinton addressed a National Urban League leadership conference north of Miami, where Bush took the same stage nearly an hour later but declined to respond in kind to the Democratic frontrunner's remarks.
Two of the most high-profile 2016 candidates touched on the delicate issues of structural poverty, race in America, and income and education inequality.
Clinton used a Bush slogan -- "Right to Rise," which is also the name of the leading political action committee backing Bush's candidacy -- to castigate him for shortcomings of his tenure as Florida governor.
"Too often we see a mismatch between what some candidates say in venues like this and what they actually do when they are elected," Clinton said.
"I don't think you can credibly say that everyone has a 'right to rise' and then say you're for phasing out Medicare or repealing Obamacare," she added.
"They can't rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on. They can't rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education. And you can not seriously talk about the right to rise and support laws that deny the right to vote."
Democrats have accused Republicans of seeking to roll back the Voting Rights Act, which sought to ensure blacks have equal rights to vote.
Clinton went further than Bush in highlighting the role that race still plays in determining "who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind."
While that is partly a centuries-old legacy, "it is also because of discrimination that is still ongoing," she said, as she recalled the names of several young unarmed black men recently killed in police-involved shootings across America.
"These names are emblazoned on our hearts," she said.
Bush spoke less on the policing crisis and more about his revolutionizing Florida's school system, including launching charter schools.
But he did cite his 2001 removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Florida Capitol and placing it in a museum, describing his action as "an easy call."
And he gave a nod to President Barack Obama's efforts to bring healing to a nation grieving over deadly racist attacks.
"When Obama says that, for too long we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present, he's speaking truth," Bush said.
Embargo 'needs to go'
Clinton later gave a speech acknowledging the "skepticism" many Cuban-Americans have toward Obama's policy of rekindling ties with Havana, but said it was time to move on from a half-century policy that has yielded little.
"The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all," Clinton told a few hundred people at Florida International University, including former Cuban dissidents.
Lifting the embargo would require an act of Congress, but while she called on Republican congressional leaders to take such action, it is unlikely to occur until at least after the 2016 election.
Republican candidates have expressed opposition to dismantling US laws that have severely restricted trade between the Cold War foes.
Bush, who speaks Spanish and frequently praises the large Cuban-American community, said it was "insulting" for Clinton to come to Miami to "endorse a retreat in the struggle for democracy in Cuba."
But Clinton said it was Republicans who were wrong, and that Cold War-era isolationism has only strengthened the Castro regime's grip on power.
"Engagement is not a gift to the Castros, it's a threat to the Castros," Clinton said.
"Lifting the embargo doesn't set back the advance of freedom, it advances freedom where it is most desperately needed."