Hillary Clinton has emerged from “the woods” since losing the presidential election, and she made one of her first major public appearances as a keynote speaker at an April 7 Houston luncheon at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, in support of Annie’s List, the Texas-based organization whose mission is to help elect more progressive women to office.
After a welcome from Houston attorney/fellow honoree Amber Anderson Mostyn, Clinton condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical gas attacks on Syria, which prompted the U.S. airstrike last Thursday night.
“It is essential that the world does more to deter Assad from committing future murderous atrocities,” Clinton said. “But the action taken last night needs to be followed by a broader strategy to end Syria’s civil war.”
She continued: “I hope this administration will move forward in a way that is most strategic and consistent with our values, and I also hope that they will recognize that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America’s borders.”
Clinton received a big round of applause when she mentioned she’d won Harris County—the nation’s largest swing county—by 12 votes during the presidential election.
Since its founding in 2003, Annie’s List, which is modeled on the nationwide Emily’s List, has endorsed and supported women including Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia, and even former Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Half of the Texas House Democrats are Annie’s List–endorsed women, said Mostyn.
Although Texas is almost 50 percent women, men hold 80 percent of the seats in the state legislature and in Harris County, a gap that Annie’s List hopes to help close.
“Research shows that a woman has to be asked to run for office at least seven times,” Mostyn said. “If you truly want to honor me, ask yourself right now: Who are you going to ask to run for office?”
Tickets for the luncheon sold out within one week, with tables ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. The day’s 2,500 attendees donated almost a million dollars before the event itself, where checkbooks came out again to help support the organization’s efforts in the next election.
Clinton’s presence didn’t hurt the cause. “She raises the visibility of the organization and helps raise money,” said Annie’s List executive director Patsy Woods Martin, “so we can support more pro-choice progressive women who are running for office in Texas. She is driving the mission forward.”