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Kathy Sullivan: How Hillary Clinton won my vote

January 05. 2016 12:36AM

Back in 2007, I attended an endorsement of Hillary Clinton by NEA-NH. Without notes or a teleprompter, she talked about education at all levels, from pre-K to elementary school to high school, vocational training, college and post graduate education. It was at that event that I realized just how smart, articulate and knowledgeable she is.

I recently went to see Hillary Clinton again at a town hall meeting. It was another bravura performance by the former Secretary of State, as she answered questions on a variety of topics: executions in Saudi Arabia, autism, the price of prescription drugs, substance abuse, the environment, and more. As always happens when I see Hillary Clinton, I was struck by the depth of her knowledge on so many issues.

In addition, as she consistently proves at her town hall meetings, she is empathetic with the people who come to see her. Person after person gets up to ask questions, most not out of intellectual curiosity, but because of something that has affected them or a loved one. One woman brought her list of payments for her prescription medicine — more than $4,000. A young man talked about how he is paying 10 percent interest on his student loans.

As often happens at Hillary Clinton town halls, young girls raise their hands to be recognized. At this most recent one that I attended, a girl said she had lost her mother to substance abuse, and asked about what could be done with foster care for other children in her situation. Hillary spoke directly to her, as if there were not another several hundred people in the room. I cannot picture many of her opponents being able to speak to that girl the way Hillary Clinton did.

In a way that I have never seen with any other candidate, Democrat or Republican, current or former, Hillary Clinton absorbs these personal stories and then acts on them. In her first campaign trip to New Hampshire, she heard about the heroin epidemic and the toll it is taking on families. She now has a plan to address the crisis. At other events, she heard from people with spouses and/or parents with Alzheimer’s. As a result, she now has a plan to provide tax credits to caregivers, and to invest in research for treatment and a potential cure.

In short, Clinton doesn’t just politely listen and then move on to the next person. She listens and then does something. She puts it this way: She wants to work on the problems that keep people up at night. If elected President, she promises to continue to have town hall meetings to stay in touch with the people, so she can continue to listen to everyday Americans.

Hillary Clinton’s intelligence and empathy are two of the reasons I support her. I also support her because in a world with serious problems. I trust her to lead the United States more than any other candidate in either party. When she walks into the White House, she will be prepared. She dealt with crises as Secretary of State. She has experience bringing coalitions together. Also, she is committed to building an economy that will work for working and middle class people. It may be exciting to talk about revolution, but what we really need are concrete, practical policies and solutions that will create jobs and increase wages while protecting the economy from risky speculation and the bad judgment of financial pirates.

Here is my final reason for supporting Hillary Clinton: She has proven that she is tough enough to be President like no other Republican or Democratic candidate. She has been attacked, vilified, lied about and obsessed over by the media and extremists. Yet Hillary Clinton still stands, and she still is out there every day trying to make this a better country. That is the person I want leading our country.

Kathy Sullivan is the former chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Oped Hillary Clinton

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