Hillary Clinton is stepping up her outreach to Irish American voters for St. Patrick's week with key states with large Irish populations such as Ohio and Illinois in play. A senior Clinton staffer is set to brief Irish American leaders this week on Hillary's Irish policy, released as a document last week. No other campaign, Republican or Democrat, appears to be pushing an outreach strategy on Irish issues.
In her policy paper, Clinton recounted the Clintons' role in the Irish Peace Process and promised her best efforts at immigration reform among other issues.
On Saturday night in Youngstown, Ohio she dropped into Donold's Irish Pub and Grill accompanied by key supporter Congressman Tim Ryan.
Clinton sipped a pint of Guinness calling it "fuel" for the battles ahead. There were shouts of "Vice President" when Ryan was introduced. Bar owner Christian Rinehart stated, "It was amazing, really cool to serve a Guinness to a presidential candidate," he said.
Meanwhile Hillary's Irish supporters say ethnic Irish voters helped her win the key state of Massachusetts in the recent primary there.
Up to now, Sanders has dominated the northeast, while Clinton has been stronger in the south. Massachusetts is the only northeastern state Clinton has won so far.
New York-based lawyer and Clinton supporter Brian O’Dwyer told the Irish Times that Clinton’s narrow win in the state (50.1 percent to 48.7 percent) was “the primary that broke the back of Bernie Sanders’s campaign.” The victory showed that the Vermont senator could lose in his New England stronghold.
O'Dwyer claimed the victory on March 1 for Irish-American voters.
“It showed she can count on the Irish,” he said. “If she had won all the areas in the south and not Massachusetts, maybe she couldn’t win.”
Boston and Springfield, cities with large Irish-American populations, swung the Massachusetts primary in Clinton's favor. She won Boston by 19,898 votes, or a 16-point margin, and Springfield by 23 points, with 11,550 votes to Sanders’s 7,202.
The day before the Super Tuesday ballot, Clinton held rallies in the two cities. In Boston she had the support of every major Democratic figure in the state, including the city’s mayor, Marty Walsh, the son of Co Galway natives.
At the Springfield rally, she mentioned the role she and her husband played in the Peace Process.
“Most particularly, we worked to end the Troubles in Ireland,” Clinton said. “To give the people of Northern Ireland a chance for peace and security.”
Standing next to her at the rally was Democratic congressman Richard Neal, whose Massachusetts district includes Springfield.
He said: “There is an unyielding loyalty to the Clintons for what they did in Northern Ireland and how they pay attention to Ireland.”