Hillary Clinton tied her religious background to her political views in a Kansas City speech that sought to convince voters she has the humility, and temperament, to be the next president.
The Democratic nominee spoke Thursday evening at the National Baptist Convention USA gathering at the Kansas City Convention Center. The group refers to itself as the country’s oldest and biggest African-American religious convention.
During her half-hour speech, Clinton quoted religious scripture and emphasized raising the minimum wage, improving health care and working to ease unemployment, in particular for younger African-Americans. She also praised African-American strength in the United States and pledged to help solve racial issues in America.
“You know better than anybody that people who look at the African-American community and see only poverty, crime and despair are missing so much,” Clinton said.
Though the speech was heavy on her religious background as a lifelong Methodist, Clinton still took the time to directly criticize Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination in his business,” Clinton said. “He traffics in toxic conspiracy theories and the lie that President Obama is not a true American. If he doesn’t even respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?”
The speech capped a full day of appearances by the former Secretary of State, who spoke in New York and North Carolina before arriving in Kansas City.
Clinton’s stop in the Midwest came as her race against Trump appears to be tightening. The candidates have stepped up criticism of one another in recent days as questions have continued about trust issues with both of the nominees.
Trump has also made an effort in recent weeks to court minority voters, despite polls showing he has minimal support from certain demographics.
Clinton’s speech Thursday allowed her to address hundreds of African-Americans from across the country. In a convention room that seats thousands, hundreds of empty seats were closed off by a temporary wall that made the convention room look smaller and less empty.
In her remarks, Clinton criticized restrictions on voting, which she compared to Jim Crow laws.
“This election is too important for anyone to sit on the sidelines,” Clinton said.
Rob Robinson, who came to the convention from Florida, said he wasn’t necessarily moved by Clinton’s speech.
“That’s a basic boilerplate speech,” he said. “She says that kind of thing all the time.”
But the speech did resonate with Reggie Chandler, from Ferguson, Mo. On his way out of the convention center, he said he loved Clinton and would support her in the election.
“She spoke from the heart,” Chandler said. “That’s the type of leader we need, someone who speaks from the heart. Not from the top of their head, where they talk nonsense.”