By Susan Redden
JOPLIN, Mo. —
“Hillary 2016” buttons were in evidence Saturday when another high-profile name associated with Democratic politics came to Joplin.
Christine Pelosi, daughter of U.S. Rep. and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, addressed the state convention of the Missouri Federation of Women’s Democratic Clubs at the Joplin Holiday Inn.
The gathering had a “rebuilding” theme that sprang from a decision made just weeks after the 2011 Joplin tornado to hold the convention here in 2013.
Shelly Peavler, a member of the Joplin-based Hillary Clinton Women’s Democratic Club, said members of the state group at a convention two years ago discussed scheduling the convention in Joplin as a way to support the community.
“We told them we’d be ready, and Joplin would be ready, and we are,” she said.
Banquet decorations included quilt runners and a quilt made by Peavler’s mother, Kay Smith, using fabric salvaged from the Sew Neat fabric store that was on East 20th Street before the tornado. The quilt was auctioned, with proceeds going to Lafayette House, and a smaller quilt was presented to Pelosi for her 4-year-old daughter.
Pelosi, an attorney, author, political strategist and chairwoman of the California Women’s Democratic Caucus, delivered a predictably partisan speech to the approximately 100 women (and a few men) in attendance.
She said Democrats must stand up for the Constitution and the First Amendment “to make sure all voices are heard and all votes are counted.”
She took more than a swipe or two at Republican stances and policies, criticizing GOP programs that she claimed are aimed at voter suppression. She said that despite a recent Supreme Court decision rejecting voter-registration requirements in Arizona, she fears that voting rights may be rolled back in the future.
She also said Republicans are trying to silence the voices of workers, and she said labor unions “are fighting our fight, because they want living wages and pensions and health insurance.”
“Republicans don’t want workers to have the same benefits as their bosses, and they want to keep CEO pay high because it’s a fundraising opportunity,” she said.
She also noted successes from Obamacare in states where health insurance policyholders are getting refunds from their insurance companies.
“It must be fully implemented,” she said. “People — especially those with chronic illnesses — are not going to want to go back to things like insurance companies putting caps on coverage.”
She also spoke in favor of the immigration reform measure currently before Congress, pointing out that the United States is a nation of immigrants. She cited particular concerns for young immigrants who are brought to the country by their parents “who have to live in the shadows.”
“All they want is a job, or to be able to go to college, or the military,” she said.
The measure includes a provision to add so many more Border Patrol agents that “it’s the only jobs bill leaving the station,” she said.
The Jasper County Republican Central Committee met last week and unanimously passed a resolution calling on Congress to reject immigration reform and to “truly secure our borders,” to terminate all taxpayer-supported benefits to those in the country illegally, and to require proficiency in reading, writing and speaking English for all applicants for U.S. naturalization.
The committee also passed a resolution calling for radically simplifying the tax code, and for abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and replacing it with a “citizen-friendly collection agency.”
SUSAN REDDEN is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-627-7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.