Hillary Clinton takes on Jeb Bush on racial equality issues

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Hillary Clinton Mocks Jeb Bush's 'Right To Rise' Mantra

Democrat Hillary Clinton sought to persuade African-Americans on Friday to resist any temptation to side with Republican Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential race as they offered differing visions on how to tackle economic and racial inequality.

The annual convention of the National Urban League marked the first same-stage appearance for Clinton, front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Bush, one of the leading candidates in the Republican race.

Democrats have long counted on African Americans as a loyal voting bloc, whereas the Republican Party acknowledged after its loss in the 2012 presidential race that it needed to build support among minorities to win the presidency.

Photos of Clinton on the campaign trail:

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Hillary Clinton takes on Jeb Bush on racial equality issues
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Hillary Clinton announced her campaign for president on Sunday April, 12, 2015 with a video on YouTube. 

(Screenshot from YouTube)

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Bush has been trying to expand the appeal of his party by vowing to go places where Republicans haven't been seen in years, such as Hispanic neighborhoods and African-American churches.

Clinton did not mention Bush by name in her speech, but mocked his campaign slogan, "Right to rise," drawing applause from the crowd for her broadside.

"I don't think you can credibly say that everyone has a 'right to rise' and then say you're for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare. People can't rise if they can't afford health care," she said.

Bush recently called for reforms to Medicare to make it more fiscally stable, including raising the retirement age and forcing wealthier beneficiaries to pay more.

He has said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, and replace it with "catastrophic coverage" that would kick in when people can't afford to pay for health care.

When it was his turn to speak, Bush did not respond to Clinton's attack, using his speech to offer a message of unity. He told reporters afterward he hadn't heard her remarks.

See Jeb Bush throughout the years:

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Hillary Clinton takes on Jeb Bush on racial equality issues
President George Bush chats with brother Gov. Jeb Bush as they acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (R) reaches out to shake hands with his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (L) shortly after Air Force One arrived at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, 09 May 2006. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (L) looks on as his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks 19 April, 2006. Governor Bush was among several governors who met with the president after an Easter trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George Bush (left) and brother Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 19: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) smile while greeting supporters during a campaign rally at Progress Energy Park October 19, 2004 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Recent polls indicate Bush is maintaining a slight lead over his Democratic challenger U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Jeb Bush is seen at Salt Lake City Airport on January 22, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by JOCE/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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Bush campaign spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger called Clinton's remarks "just more false, cheap political shots to distract from the fact that Secretary Clinton has no record of accomplishment to run on in this race."

"The Urban League deserved better today," she said.

In his speech, Bush said Democratic policies have failed to fix the education system, perpetuating a cycle of inequality, unemployment and poverty.

"I want to work with the Urban League movement to end this injustice once and for all," said Bush, who touted his record on improving Florida's school system.

"For a half century, this nation has pursued a war on poverty and massive government programs, funded with trillions of taxpayer dollars. This decades-long effort, while well intentioned, has been a losing one," Bush said.

Bush received pockets of polite applause from the mainly African American crowd.

Tammy McDonald-Anderson, a 52-year-old community organizer from Palm Beach County, said Bush had a steep hill to climb.

"He better be prepared and be doing research about what's important to us," McDonald-Anderson said. "We won't take lip service."

Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders, two other Democratic candidates, also spoke, as did Republican Ben Carson.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Jonathan Allen; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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