PHILADELPHIA, July 29, 2016 - The general election campaign is officially on. Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination by laying out a long policy agenda and by blasting Donald Trump as shallow, thin-skinned and unprepared. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man that we can trust with nuclear weapons,” she said in her most brutal line.

In sharp contrast to Trump’s acceptance speech last week in Cleveland, Clinton mentioned trade only briefly and in general terms. She didn’t mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership at all. “If you believe that we should say no to unfair trade deals, that we should stand up to China, that we should support our steelworkers and autoworkers and homegrown manufacturers, join us.”

She reiterated her pledge to push for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million people who are now in the country illegally. 

“When we have millions of hardworking immigrants contributing to our economy, it would be self-defeating and inhumane to kick them out,” she said. “Comprehensive immigration reform will grow our economy and keep families together - and it's the right thing to do.”

She used the speech to try to reach out to economically struggling voters who may be attracted to Trump. She said her primary mission would be to improve the economy - “from our inner cities to our small towns.” and pledged that she would use her first 100 days to enact the “biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.” She didn’t say what the plan would include or how she would get Congress to go along with it. 

Rural caucus meeting scrapped. The second of two rural council meetings at the convention was canceled yesterday afternoon, leaving some disappointed delegates wondering about whether the party is serious about competing in rural areas. 

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was scheduled to speak at the afternoon session. But Betty Ritchie, a Democratic national committeewoman from Texas, instead read a prepared statement saying that the session was being cancelled to make sure that all delegates could get to the convention site in time. She assured the handful of people who had arrived on time for the meeting that “rural people are not forgotten” by the party. She said the most important thing is to elect Clinton “and then she can help us with the rural votes.” 

But Ritchie later told Agri-Pulse in an interview that she believes the party is “neglecting … rural voters.”  She said, “We have to have a message and we have not had a strong message for rural America, coming from anyone.” 

Mike Geirau, a party member from Jackson, Wyo., said the fact that the meeting was even scheduled for Thursday afternoon, just two hours before the convention’s closing session was set to start, suggested the party wasn’t really serious about competing in rural regions. “Frankly, the party seems to sometimes write off” rural America, he said.

It may be too early to say for sure that the Clinton is going to leave rural voters to Donald Trump. According to The Associated Press, Clinton is planning a campaign event in Nebraska on Monday. As we’ve reported, Vilsack has been pleading to agricultural leaders this week to help Clinton reduce Republican victory margins in rural areas. 

Union leader pushes back on ‘radical environmentalists.’ Democrats have put a lot of focus on the climate issue this week and making the case for actions to move away from fossil fuels. But an exchange at an event on the sidelines of the convention illustrates the challenges Democrats can face, even within their own base. 

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was in the audience for a forum yesterday on clean energy sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Coalition. He stood up during the Q&A session to argue that the only thing stopping Congress from taking action to reduce carbon emissions was pressure on Republicans from oil companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Whitehouse’s remarks prompted a union leader to stand up and air his concerns about the pressure from what he called “radical environmentalists” for clean energy projects. Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, said that renewable energy projects are paying workers only a fraction of what they can get in conventional energy sectors. A solar power project, for example, pays workers just $16 an hour, only one dollar more than the minimum wage Democrats are proposing, he said. 

Whitehouse interrupted McGarvey to assert that the influence of environmental groups paled by comparison to the oil industry. But McGarvey told the senator that he had already had his turn to speak and continued with his argument. McGarvey said that environmentalists have blocked scores of energy projects that have taken the “roofs off of people’s heads and food off their tables.”

EPA pesticide decision due today. Bayer CropScience is bracing for a decision on whether it will be allowed to keep selling Belt, a chemical prized for its effectiveness against various types of insect larvae. EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board is expected to rule today on a challenge the crop protection company filed to the agency's decision to cancel the conditional registration of flubendiamide, the active ingredient in Belt. The insecticide is registered for use on about 200 crops, including soybeans, cotton and tree nuts. 

An administrative law judge has already upheld the cancellation, but Bayer contends the agency did not fully explain its interpretation of the data behind its decision. EPA says Belt is toxic to aquatic life, but Bayer says its own tests show the product is safe.  

She said it. “He's offering empty promises. What are we offering? A bold agenda to improve the lives of people across our country - to keep you safe, to get you good jobs, and to give your kids the opportunities they deserve.” - Hillary Clinton

Steve Davies contributed to this report. 



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