HOUSTON — Fresh off her victory in Nevada, Hillary Clinton sought to turn Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s promises of cheap government-run health care and free college tuition into a liability at a late-night rally in Texas on Saturday night.
Clinton characterized Sanders’s promises as “wrong,” adding a more personal dimension to her frequent criticism of his plans as unlikely to be achieved and impractical.
“I don’t think it’s right to look a person in the eye who’s hurting and needs help and tell them that if they vote for you, you’ll get $5,000 of health care and only have to pay for $500 for it,” Clinton said at Texas Southern University. “You shouldn’t say that unless you can really deliver it.”
“If the numbers don’t add up, it’s wrong to make those promises,” she said at the campaign rally, which drew about 2,000 people. “Because it’s not just about math, it’s about people’s lives.”
Clinton arrived in Texas hours after leaving Nevada with renewed confidence in a strategy and message they hope will take them into the March contests, focused on a broader message that includes the concerns of minority voters while portraying Sanders’s populist focus as too narrow.
“We have to make sure, my friends, that nothing holds you back — not debt, not discrimination, not a deck that’s always stacked for those at the top,” Clinton said. “Bringing down all the barriers that stand in the way of our people and our country is a big job and we’re not going to get it done by making promises that don’t add up.”
Clinton’s nearly six-point win in Nevada’s caucuses came at a crucial time for the campaign, when nervousness about the strategy and message were increasing among supporters.
After winning narrowly in Iowa and losing resoundingly in New Hampshire, Clinton’s victory in Nevada seemed to validate her campaign’s months of groundwork and engagement with minority communities.
Though Clinton holds a sizable lead in South Carolina, which votes in a week, she is expected to spend much of the next week campaigning there.
But first, Clinton moved quickly to establish the strategic importance of Texas, a diverse state that votes in March and where 222 delegates are up for grabs.
“The big vote is here in Texas,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, of Texas. “When you vote, you’re voting to get a nominee and then a president of the United States."
After a full day of campaigning, Clinton coughed and grew hoarse at the podium. The crowd chanted “Hillary! Hillary!” as she struggled to speak, then quieted as she lowered her voice to finish a portion of her remarks
“If we hear the voices of Flint and Ferguson, if we open our hearts to the families of Coal Country and Indian Country... it’s clear there’s so much more we have to do,” Clinton said.