POLITICS

Hillary Clinton: U.S. Must 'Face Hard Truths' On Race And Violence

A day after nine people were shot and killed in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged the country to "face hard truths about race, violence, guns and division," including hateful rhetoric directed at immigrants.

"When I hear words of hatred and anger directed at any of our fellow human beings, I ask myself, what is motivating that?" she said in a speech at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference in Las Vegas. "Do the people who feel so much hatred and anger ever look in the mirror and realize that they too are fellow human beings?"

Clinton began her speech by addressing the shooting by a white gunman at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She said it "broke her heart."

"We are with you and we will stand with you as we seek answers and take action. How many innocent people in our country -- from little children to churchgoers to movie theater attendees -- how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?" she said.

Division and the need for unity were underlying themes of much of her remarks, particularly the educational and economic disparities between whites and Latinos. Clinton reiterated a number of her campaign promises, such as universal pre-kindergarten, free community college for all, better health care and improved voting access. She implored immigrant parents to speak to their children in their native languages, regardless of cries for "English-only" education.

All of those issues came up before immigration, which is somewhat rare for a speech at a Latino-focused event. But polling has found that immigration is not the top issue for most Latino voters. Rather, many Latinos know an undocumented immigrant, making that issue more personal.

So when Clinton finally got to immigration, more than 20 minutes into her speech, she got some of the loudest applause of the day.

"If Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I will do everything possible under the law to go even further than what President Obama has attempted to achieve," she vowed, repeating a promise she made last month in Las Vegas to expand deportation relief to undocumented immigrants.

Later, she recounted hearing Dr. Martin Luther King speak in Chicago when she was young. She said he challenged the crowd "to stay engaged in the cause of justice, not to slumber while the world changed around us."

"Well, the world is still changing and it's up to us to shape that change, to build the future that we want," Clinton said.

Most of the 2016 presidential candidates are skipping the NALEO conference in Nevada, a state where Latinos make up 15 percent of the electorate. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, will speak at the conference on Friday. The only Republican to attend was retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

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