Local party leaders react to Hillary speech, differ on its effectiveness

Jul 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton made history Thursday night, becoming the first woman to accept a major political party's nomination for the presidential election. As one might expect, the local leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties offered mixed reviews of her speech, including whether she solidified her party's support.

Local influential Democrats, including Buffalo Mayor (and New York State Democratic Committee Chair) Byron Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen and Congressman Brian Higgins had an up-close view of Mrs. Clinton' s acceptance speech. They sat right behind former president Bill Clinton and vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

Hillary Clinton, as seen during her visit to Buffalo in April.
Credit Eileen Elibol/WBFO file photo

So, too, did Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Jeremy Zellner, who told WBFO he felt Mrs. Clinton's speech was most successful.

"I think she answered the questions that people had," Zellner said. "I think she looked squarely in the American public's eyes and said 'I've been around a long time, I've worked hard in the arena, and made some mistakes but worked hard for this country.' "

Zellner suggests what Clinton delivered in her address than Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump did not the previous week was an actual plan.

"All he did was talk rhetoric, and empty promises about general ideas," he said.

Republicans, of course, disagree and believe Clinton's speech fell short of rallying her party. Erie County Republican Committee chairman Nick Langworthy, for one, felt the speech was filled with boilerplate liberal talking points but lacked inspiration. 

"Hillary Clinton has a likebility issue," Langworthy said. "She doesn't have the same likability that both her husband and President Obama do, even with the base of her party. You have a situation where probably seven or eight times, during the course of her speech, protests had to be shouted down. That's a real problem."

It was too soon to indicate whether Mrs. Clinton's performance would result in a ratings boost. Updated polls are not completed and Langworthy pointed out that new voters have yet to come forward that would influence the numbers. He predicted the race will remain close.

"While the convention bragged about the great accomplishments and how wonderful the country is doing under Barack Obama's eight years, at the same time they tried to talk about how Hillary will be a change maker," Langworthy said. "The entire convention was a walking contradiction."

Zellner, though, offered what he sees as the big difference between the candidates, and citing Clinton's experience called her the best candidate to serve the direct interests of Western New York.

"Now, people have to decide whether they want to support Hillary Clinton, who has a lifetime of service to this country, or whether they want to support Donald Trump, who has a lifetime of service to himself," Zellner said.