UPDATE: 2:25 p.m. EST — Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton Sunday told an audience in Flint, Michigan, she is not going to rest until the community is made whole again in the aftermath of its water contamination crisis.
The city’s water supply was contaminated with lead after switching to Flint River water, which corroded aging pipes.
“This is a for me a personal commitment,” Clinton said during a community meeting with Mayor Karen Weaver and local residents. “I will stand with you every step of the way. I will not for one minute forget about you or forget about your children. I will do everything I can” to help the city rise again.
She said on her way to Michigan from New Hampshire, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary Tuesday, she was clicking through pictures of her granddaughter and said she could not imagine “what I'd be feeling if that little face” was the face of a child with lead poisoning.
Clinton noted Flint “is not the only place where children are being harmed by what they breathe and what they drink” and urged Americans to contribute to organizations raising money for bottled water and filters. She cited prison inmates in Ionia, about an hour southwest of Flint, for pledging a third of their prison wages to help the city.
“What happened here should never have happened anywhere,” Clinton said.
Michigan holds its primaries March 8.
Hillary Clinton Sunday called for an investigation into the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, saying the nation needs to figure out how to “take care of these kids going forward.”
The Democratic presidential front-runner, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the water contamination in Michigan “is not the only Flint in our country” and that efforts must be made to uncover other pollutants damaging children’s health.
Flint’s water became contaminated when the city, for financial reasons, switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which had been a dumping ground for auto industry chemicals for decades. The chemicals corroded aging water pipes, leaching lead into the water supply. Once the contamination was discovered, it took months for state and federal authorities to react.
Saying Flint represents a “terrible, horrible set of circumstances,” Clinton called for an investigation.
“Why wasn’t this sounding alarms everywhere?” she asked, adding the focus now should be on what to do to counteract the damage. “This is a big deal. … It’s also about the future. How are we going to take care of these kids going forward?”
Clinton, who was heading for Flint after her morning show appearance, called for nutrition support to mitigate the damage caused by lead poisoning and for closer attention to be paid to other areas of the country where pollutants are a problem, citing communities where asthma rates are “500 times higher” than elsewhere.
Clinton also explained her vote on a banking industry bill the rival Bernie Sanders campaign intimated reflected the influence of Wall Street interests on her voting in the Senate.
The Sanders campaign distributed an excerpt from a book written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., where she pointed out that Clinton changed her position on a banking bill between her stint as first lady and her election as a senator in 2000. The intimation was that Clinton's position was influenced by major contributions to her campaign from Wall Street.
Clinton said when she entered the Senate, she was approached by women’s groups to get co-sponsors of the bill to change a provision that didn’t protect child support. She said she worked to get that provision changed and in turn had to promise to vote for the bill. She said she “held her nose” and cast a yes vote for the bill, which she noted never became law.
On CBS's “Face the Nation,” Clinton accused rival Sen. Bernie Sandiers of conducting an “artful smear and I’m not going to sit and take it anymore.”
“What the Sanders campaign is trying to do is link donations to my political campaign … to undue influence. … I really do resent the implication,” Clinton said.