Raimondo’s on a roll
Democratic treasurer candidate Gina Raimondo, as we know, is a fundraising powerhouse. And she solidified her status as the ace rookie of this campaign season by making the best candidate speech during Monday’s AFL-CIO endorsement meeting at the RI Convention Center. (I missed her Drinking Liberally appearance Wednesday night, but she got high marks there, too.)
Raimondo’s speech to the AFL-CIO stood out because she fused FDR-style Democratic idealism with a sober analysis of Rhode Island’s economic woes and clear to-the-point messaging.
First, she played to her audience by describing by her family’s union credentials. Her father’s father helped start the local chapter of what became UCFW.
Raimondo talked up how “government can play a vital role in getting people back to work.” She said Rhode Island’s pension woes need to be fixed, so that the pension system and other government programs will be sustainable.
With the sour economy causing a “pit in your stomach” feeling for too many, she said, Rhode Island needs change and effective leadership. “That’s why I’ve chosen to step up,” Raimondo said. She added: “I’m proud to say I believe in government . . . but I believe in good government, effective government.”
As is her wont, Raimondo talked about the importance for her own family of the GI bill, public transit, public libraries, and the like. Such services need to be strengthened, she said, because “right now, there’s a little kid like me.” When it comes to things like quality healthcare and education, “she needs it to be there.”
Raimondo told her union audience she won’t take part in anti-state worker rhetoric, but she also indicated that she won’t mollycoddle public employees. Due to the need to straighten out state finances, she told me subsequently, “You can’t be a progressive and be opposed to pension reform.” As far as what that reform should consist of, Raimondo says, wide options need to be considered, including a hybrid plan.
When Raimondo finished her speech on Monday, AFL-CIO president George Nee noted that she played rugby at Harvard. Oxford, too, as it turns out.