Clinton Receives Luke Warm Response After MLK Event

Jan 14, 2008 3:50pm

ABC News’ Kate Snow, Susan Kriskey and Eloise Harper Report: Hillary Clinton spoke to a less than enthusiastic crowd at an event honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. with union members focusing on security workers in New York. The speakers before Clinton were cheered and received a standing ovation. When Clinton took the stage there was applause but scattered boo’s as members walked out of the hall.

The Democratic Senator from New York referenced King at the top of her speech saying, "It’s a pleasure to be celebrating Dr. King’s life and to be carrying forward his vision," and "you understand as Dr. King did that your cause was his cause." Clinton continued, "each of us, no matter who we are and where we started from, is a beneficiary of Dr. King."

Clinton did shift the tone to politics and after referencing the fact that there was a woman and an African-American running for president, Clinton said it "should cause our hearts to leap with joy and celebration" and said, "we need to bring together the democratic party." Clinton also said "both Senator Obama and I know that we are where we are today because of leaders like Dr King." There was applause after these remarks.

Some members of the audience said they admired Clinton but thought her remarks at the event to commemorate King were a bit awkward or out of place.

"It was ill-timed" said one woman, who said she thought the speech did not fit into the rest of the program.

When asked who he would support for President, one listener shrugged and nodded his head from side-to-side. "We’ll see. We’ll see," he said with a sigh.

Clinton, who has been embattled in conflict regarding race and comments she made about Martin Luther King last week, made it a point to share with the audience that her relationship with King dates back to her childhood.

"I remember hearing him speak when I went with my church in downtown Chicago to go and hear and see for myself someone who had burst through the stereotypes and the caricatures who could not be held back by being beaten or gassed or jailed."

After Clinton spoke the audience politely clapped for her, but she did not receive the praise and reception of those who spoke before she did.

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