Hillary Clinton has landed on a very personal counterpunch to what she says is Donald Trump’s checkered business past: her dad.
As the Democratic presidential nominee works to undercut Trump’s economic record and promote her plans for small businesses, she is invoking memories of her late father’s Chicago drapery business. Recalling Hugh Rodham hard at work making and printing curtains for hotels and office buildings, Clinton argues that he would have been “stiffed” in a deal with the celebrity businessman.
“He expected to be paid when he showed up,” Clinton said recently during an event in Warren, Michigan. “He did the work. He paid for the supplies and the labor he often hired to help him on big jobs. I can’t imagine what would have happened to my father and his business if he had gotten a contract from Trump.”
Clinton hopes to remind voters that despite her years in public life that have left her a multimillionaire, she comes from a middle-class background and understands the life of a small-business owner. She also wants to contrast her biography with that of Trump, who was raised by a successful real estate developer and has drawn criticism for his treatment of small businesses during his career.
Trump has promoted his business record as a key qualification for the White House. But Trump casinos failed on several occasions. When the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey went bankrupt in the early 1990s, some contractors who worked on the property went under because Trump’s company didn’t pay what they were owed, according to interviews with The Associated Press.
In a statement to the AP, Clinton said her father’s business gave her “a sense of responsibility,” adding that she was “living proof that a successful small business is at the core of the basic bargain in America, that if you work hard and do your part, you can make your own dreams and those of your children a reality.”
Clinton has been pitching her plans to support small businesses and to make it easier to start a company. On a conference call with small-business owners last week, she proposed a new tax deduction for small businesses and offered federal incentives to encourage state and local governments to streamline regulations.