November 23, 2014

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N.Y. congresswoman rallies for Clinton

LORAIN — The first time through, U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez delivered her message in English.

“We have an opportunity to put an end to an administration in the White House that doesn’t care about job creation in America,” she said Saturday night, asking the crowd at the Lorain Puerto Rican Home Club to rally around Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

CARL SULLENBERGER / CHRONICLE
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York speaks Saturday in Lorain in support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

When the applause died, she gave almost the same speech in Spanish, and the room roared in approval.

Velazquez is one of several high-profile politicos stumping across Ohio this weekend in preparation for Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

A representative from New York’s 12th District, she is the first Puerto Rican elected to Congress, where she also has become one of the highest-ranking women. She also was the first Latina ever elected to New York’s city council.

In Lorain, she connected with people of a common heritage.

Velazquez said Puerto Ricans need to seize a historical chance to change the way America runs by choosing Clinton over her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Many voters are drawn to Obama’s charisma, but Clinton has experience, she said.

“This is not about charisma. It’s about hiring someone who has the ability to make a change for working families,” she said.

Clinton will work to provide health coverage to 44 million uninsured Americans — a full third of whom are Hispanic, Velazquez said. Working families shouldn’t have to hold down two or three jobs to afford medical care while the richest 1 percent of Americans get tax breaks, she said.

Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko also has endorsed Clinton as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. He said that if she is elected, Clinton will renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement to protect Lorain’s industrial jobs.

“I think we still have a work force and a work ethic that can compete with anyone in the world in manufacturing,” he said. “Manufacturing built Lorain, and manufacturing will sustain it for years to come.”

The instability of the economy is the most important factor in the 2008 election, said 51-year-old Pedro Velazquez of Lorain, who isn’t related to the congresswoman but came from the same village in Puerto Rico.

Pedro Velazquez said that after hearing Nydia Velazquez speak, he is still undecided about who will get his vote, but Clinton might have an advantage if she becomes president.

“She’d have at her right hand Bill Clinton, who was already president,” he said. “That is not a small thing.”

Contact Jason Hawk at 329-7148 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.