Hillary’s coming to town Dem presidential frontrunner in JC for private fundraiser

Note: The web version of this article is different from the one published in the printed edition of the Jersey City Reporter.

Former First Lady and current U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton is coming to Jersey City this Monday, July 30.

The 2008 presidential contender will appear at a private fundraiser in Newport.

Clinton is the leader in a pack of Democratic hopefuls, including popular U.S. Senator Barack Obama from Illinois and Ohio Sen. Dennis Kucinich, both of whom already have visited the city.

Hosting Hillary Clinton’s appearance are Downtown City Councilman Steven Fulop and developer Jaime LeFrak of Newport Associates. According to Fulop, last week he received confirmation that Gov. Jon Corzine and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, both of whom live in Hoboken, will join Clinton.

“She has the correct and reasonable perspective on policy to end the war in Iraq, in which I still have friends serving,” Fulop said last week.

According to Fulop, he and other local Clinton supporters worked for months to schedule the event, and they are looking forward to seeing her address the public.

“There was certainly a demand and this will be great, as it is her first appearance in Hudson County,” Fulop said. “And I am just happy to be a part of it.”

Clinton’s appearance is the third by a Democratic presidential candidate in Jersey City in the last three months. In April, Kucinich met with a small group of Downtown Jersey City residents for a dinner discussion at the Brownstone Diner on Jersey Avenue. In May, Obama held a fundraiser at the Liberty House Restaurant in Liberty State Park, hosted by Obama supporters Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Healy said last week that he chose to support Obama because he has “the right temperament.” Healy also pointed out that Obama reached out to him for support early in the campaign.

“This is not to take away from Hillary Clinton, who I respect a great deal,” Healy said, “but he’s very good one-on-one with people; he’s terrific one-on-10. And I believe he is the best person.”Hillary is their woman

It is not the first time a Clinton has come to town. Former President Bill Clinton came to Jersey City in 2005 to lend support to Menendez in his successful run for the U.S. Senate.

Clinton is coming into friendly territory on Monday. Various polls show she leads in popularity amongst Hudson County residents over her Democratic rivals.

Fulop said that as a Iraq War veteran who served there in 2003, his respect for Hillary Clinton is borne out of her stance on the war.

Fulop said, “As a veteran of Iraq, this issue is important to me, and she has been a strong and vocal supporter of veteran issues.”

Fulop added, “On the domestic front, she will be good for business and the economy.”

Other Jersey City residents weighed in last week on Clinton as candidate. Newport residents weigh in

Sonia Maldonado, a Newport resident for over 10 years, said she will be meeting with Clinton at the private fundraiser and has sent out numerous e-mails to friends and acquaintances informing them of her appearance.

“I think it’s time for this country to have a woman president,” Maldonado said. “I think when she is in office she will do a tremendous amount of work in terms of health care reform.”

Richard McCormack is an employee of the Hudson County Division of Welfare and a longtime freelance photographer whose work has appeared in this newspaper.

“I believe she is the strongest of the Democratic candidates running,” McCormack said. “And I am not afraid it will be a Bill Clinton administration, as some people I know are worried that she will have his people running things. If there is an overload of Bill Clinton, what’s wrong with that? What did Bill Clinton do to hurt this country?”

McCormack joked, “That’s one Bill she won’t veto.”

McCormack, who is a diabetic, said that he also believes her presidency will lead to more funding for juvenile diabetes research.

But one longtime unnamed Jersey City resident, currently living in the city’s Heights section, said she doesn’t “bet on going there” unless she could question Clinton one-on-one.

“She funded the war in Iraq, but now calls for the troops to be immediately withdrawn,” the resident said. “I would ask her if all the troops are pulled out, how she thinks this will affect this country.” Why Jersey City?

Jersey City has become a popular destination for presidential candidates this year.

Fulop believes next year’s early presidential primary in New Jersey on Feb. 5, 2008 is one reason why candidates are showing up here.

“The primary moving up has had an impact and the wealth of the state makes it an important place for politicians to get their message out,” Fulop said.

New Jersey residents donated $16 million to Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in 2004, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics. Jersey City residents alone donated approximately $2.6 million to 2004 presidential candidates.

City Councilman Steve Lipski, who represents the city’s Journal Square area, said there is another factor attracting presidential hopefuls.

“The Democratic Party [in Hudson County] is split on who it’s going with, so there’s an opportunity for candidates to pick up some major support here,” Lipski said. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com