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Hillary Clinton used her closing remarks at the Democratic presidential primary debate Sunday to express her outrage at the water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich. — and to suggest that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was slow to respond because Flint residents are largely poor and black.
Offered an opportunity by debate moderator Lester Holt to raise any issue that the two-hour NBC News-YouTube debate in South Carolina had failed to address, she pointed to the lead-poisoning crisis that arose in 2014 after Flint city administrators appointed by the state moved the city off the Detroit water system in an effort to save money, and began drawing water from the Flint River. The corrosive river water leached lead from pipes, making the water unsafe to drink, especially for children — leaving an unknown number poisoned and the population dependent on bottled water, even after the city switched back to its original source. President Obama signed an Emergency Declaration on Monday, which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide water and water filtration equipment to the stricken town.
“I spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what’s happening in Flint, Mich., and I think every single American should be outraged,” Clinton said. “We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population, which is poor in many ways and majority African-American, has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water. And the governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care.
"He had a request for help that he had basically stonewalled. I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action.
"So I sent my top campaign aide down there to talk to the mayor of Flint, to see what I could do to help. I issued a statement about what we needed to do, and then I went on a TV show and I said it was outrageous that the governor hadn’t acted. And within two hours, he had.”
(Cover tile photo: Randall Hill/Reuters)