CHICAGO — Improving child care needs to become a national priority, Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Wednesday, and she urged Republicans in Congress to provide more federal money to help working families care for their children.
The Democratic presidential front-runner said at a community center on Chicago's South Side that federal and state funding for child care has failed to keep up with the needs of families, many of whom have seen their costs soar during the past decade. Clinton said budget plans in Congress would pare back funding for child care even more.
"I am going to be putting forth plans to fix this," Clinton said. "We either want Republicans to get on board or get out of the way."
Clinton spoke for about 10 minutes at the start of a round table discussion on child care sponsored by the Service Employees International Union. Reporters were escorted from the event after her remarks.
The former secretary of state addressed issues closely watched by labor unions, telling the group that people must stand firm behind the right to organize and bargain collectively. She made her comments as union officials and fast food workers were holding demonstrations at McDonald's headquarters in suburban Chicago demanding increased hourly wages.
Clinton, who grew up in the nearby suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois, was attending two private fundraisers later in the day, appearing at media executive Fred Eychaner's home and at the home of billionaire entrepreneur J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M.K.
Eychaner has been one of Clinton's most loyal financial supporters and has been among the biggest donors to Priorities USA Action, the Democratic super PAC backing Clinton. Pritzker is a longtime Clinton donor and the brother of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who served as President Barack Obama's national finance chairwoman in 2008.
Clinton made her first visit to Chicago, also Obama's hometown, as a presidential candidate after two days of campaigning in Iowa, which holds the nation's leadoff presidential caucuses. The former first lady has been attending small events in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with local officials, campaign volunteers and voters as she begins her second presidential campaign.
Clinton returns to New Hampshire on Friday with small business events planned in state's Seacoast region.
Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.