Elections

Clinton and other Democrats seize on Flint as a political issue

Flint residents Marcus Shelton, from left, Roland Young, and Darius Martin walk on an ice-covered street as they retrieve free water on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, at Heavenly Host Full Gospel Baptist Church in Flint, Mich. Flint's water became contaminated after Flint switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as a cost-cutting move.
Flint residents Marcus Shelton, from left, Roland Young, and Darius Martin walk on an ice-covered street as they retrieve free water on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, at Heavenly Host Full Gospel Baptist Church in Flint, Mich. Flint's water became contaminated after Flint switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as a cost-cutting move. AP

Hillary Clinton and fellow Democrats think they have found a winning political issue: the lack of clean tap water in Flint, Michigan.

Clinton’s campaign hosted a call with reporters Tuesday featuring Flint Mayor Karen Weaver following Clinton’s passionate comments on the issue at the Democratic debate this weekend.

Weaver said Clinton is the only presidential candidate who has reached out to her, although Bernie Sanders has spoken about the issue and even called on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to resign.

“I want Hillary,” Mayor Karen Weaver said in a conference call with reporters. “She has actually been the only, the only candidate, whether we’re talking Democratic or Republican, to reach out and talk with us about, ‘What can I do? What kind of help do you need?’ ”

Weaver, who was in Washington Tuesday for a meeting of mayors, was expected to meet with President Barack Obama, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. Obama on Saturday declared a federal emergency, which allows $5 million to be sent to Flint, but did not declare a disaster which could have come with more money.

At the debate, Clinton spoke about Flint in her closing statement, saying “every single American should be outraged” that a predominantly black, low-income community has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water.

“I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action,” Clinton said.

Democrats have seized on the issue with the Democratic National Committee saying Flint shows “what happens when politicians have the wrong priorities.”

Republican front-runner Donald Trump was asked about Flint at an event at the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Iowa where he was endorsed by the late actor’s daughter, Aissa Wayne.

“It’s a shame what’s happening in Flint, Michigan, a thing like that shouldn’t happen,” Trump said. “I don’t want to comment on that. They’ve got a very difficult problem and I know the governor has a very difficult time going, but I shouldn’t be commenting on Flint.”

Fellow Republican Marco Rubio said, “it’s just not an issue we’ve been quite frankly fully briefed or apprised of, in terms of the role the governor has played and the state has played in Michigan on these sorts of issues.”

Interviewed by reporters, Ted Cruz on Tuesday, called the situation an “absolute tragedy” and a “failure at every level of government.”

He said the men and women and children in Flint had been “betrayed” and he blamed “government negligence” and called for greater accountability in government, from city state and federal.

Lesley Clark contributed to this report.

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