SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — There was the old story about Corning, New York and the diesel buses. The one about the “soap lady” who built her business online with help from Hillary Clinton’s Senate office. And don’t forget about the wine ice cream, discovered by the former New York senator and now sold across the globe.
Most campaigns focus on the future. But when Clinton kicked off her effort to win over upstate New York, her sights were set squarely on the past.
On Friday, she set off on a nostalgia-fused tour of her greatest economic hits, part of an effort by her campaign to highlight her congressional record as she prepares for a drag-out fight in her home state against Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“When I think about the great honor I had of representing New York for eight years in the Senate, I want to put all that experience all that work on behalf of New York and America,” Clinton told cheering supporters gathered in a Syracuse warehouse.
“This is really personal for me. You all took a chance on me back in 2000 and that meant the world to me,” she said.
Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will hold a series of events in upstate New York in the coming weeks, said campaign aides, designed to boost support among rural and working-class voters, groups that have favored Sanders in previous primary contests.
On Friday, she unveiled a $10 billion manufacturing proposal centered on using federal funding to create “Make it in America Partnerships.” Businesses participating in the program would pledge not to outsource jobs or move their headquarters abroad to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
The new federal spending would be paid for with tax revenue from a “clawback” tax on companies that outsource jobs or facilities abroad, an idea Clinton proposed in March.
But even as she rolled out her new policy, Clinton’s seemed to delight in discuss the past. Joined by a top staffer from her Senate office, she reminisced about projects like helping pair New York wine-makers with ice cream producers to create wine ice cream.
And she was happy to take suggestions from her old friends, including soliciting Hollywood remake of the 1980s movie Flashdance to make manufacturing “sexy.”
“Gotta make it sexy, I agree with that,” Clinton said. “We’ve got to lift up those jobs and have some TV shows about them.”
While a loss in New York would not significantly winnow her advantage among the delegates who determine the nomination, it would be a major psychological blow to her supporters and raise questions about the level of enthusiasm within her own party for her bid.
Clinton hopes that big wins in New York and the contests that follow in five northeastern states a week later will effectively end the Democratic primaries by giving her an all-but-insurmountable delegate lead.
Along with touting her local record, she’s sharpening her attacks on Sanders, questioning his support for gun control legislation and saying his free college proposal would require governors to pay a significant share of the cost, an unlikely outcome in Republican-led states.
She targeted his opposition to the export-import bank on Friday, a federal agency that providing financing for exports to help U.S. companies sell goods overseas.
“I just go crazy when I hear Senator Sanders and the tea party Republicans railing against the export-import bank like it’s some kind of evil presence,” she said. “It gives us an advantage.”
Sanders, who grew up in Brooklyn, is targeting younger liberals in New York City and working class voters in economically-struggling areas upstate.
He kicked off his campaign in the state on Thursday night, attracting 18,500 cheering supporters to a rally in the South Bronx. On Friday, he campaigned in Wisconsin, where he’s favored to win the April 5 primary.