MANHATTAN (CN) - Hitting the New York offices of four powerful unions, President Bill Clinton said Hillary has the record Democrats want for their next commander in chief.
Warmed up by Mary J. Blige's '90s classic "Real Love," the enthusiastic and diverse crowd needed some prodding to take their seats after Clinton, a '90s classic himself, reached the podium Thursday morning at the Midtown offices of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1199.
"Y'all need to sit down," Clinton told the audience of about 300, quickly pivoting then into his push for the Democratic front-runner.
Tailoring his message to the audience, the largest health care union in America, the former president said the free-tuition plan espoused by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders would work as well as Medicaid expansion.
"If a lot of these states wouldn't take a Medicaid expansion where it was 90 percent federal and 10 percent match, why in the world would they take the college aid when they've got to come up with a third," Clinton asked.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton meanwhile proposes a debt-free plan for students who go to public colleges, historically black colleges and universities, and small private schools that offer modest tuition, high graduations.
Black supporters were plentiful in the crowd Thursday morning, flanked by pro-Clinton posters with the message "Quality Care & Good Jobs for All," and shouts of "That's Right!" frequently punctuated the president's speech.
With more than 400,000 members throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Florida, the SEIU's support helped send President Barack Obama to the White House.
President Clinton made several mentions to Obama in his half-hour speech, chief among them Obama's achievement growing jobs after the 2007 financial crisis.
"We got the jobs back two and half years early because the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for from a lot of people," Clinton said.
Clinton also touched on Obama's legislative legacies, health care and Wall Street reform, drawing a loud cheer when he said described the message enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act sent to Wall Street: "we're not bailing you out again, you've got to eat those losses."
Former secretary Clinton's record is equally bright, her husband said, pointing to top marks from the fact-checking website PolitiFact.
Whereas Donald Trump clocked in claims that are mostly false, false or "pants on fire" 77 percent of the time, Clinton is in a three-way tie with Sanders and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for most truthful claims, PolitiFact reported this week.
Clinton was halfway through his tour of Manhattan union offices Thursday afternoon when three powerful women's groups held a press call to endorse the former secretary and echo condemnation of Trump for his latest bout of backpedaling.
Trump has since retracted televised comments from his interview with MSNBC Wednesday in which he said he believed in "some form of punishment" for women who get abortions if the procedure was outlawed.
Though Sanders has said focusing on the outlandish remarks only generates more free publicity for Trump, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said the cost is too great to brush of dangerous rhetoric.
"Under no circumstances should we take Donald Trump's comments not seriously," Richards said, adding that Trump has the same stance opinion on abortion as the other Republican candidates.
EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock echoed this sentiment, saying "punishing women is the Republican status quo."
Clinton meanwhile has introduced "eight pieces of legislature for protecting women's access to health care," Richards said, calling her the only candidate when it comes this issue.
Efforts by many states to curtail women's access to abortions "makes it impossible for some and very difficult for too many" to undergo the procedure legally, Richards said.
Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said all three Republican candidates have extreme anti-abortion positions, with Sen. Ted Cruz at the head of this group.
Punishing women is always the outcome for Republican candidates who "voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood," Hogue said.
"All pledged to make abortion illegal, making women criminals and making doctors criminals," she added.
Trump's abortion comments represented a "horrifying new low," Hogue said.
But those words are "what these [extreme anti-abortion conservative] groups say with their actions all the time," she added.
Women's health didn't come up in the speech to SEUI by Clinton's husband Thursday, but he did express dismay that President George W. Bush was "apparently the last Republican who was not anti-immigrant."
Noting that Hillary co-sponsored the DREAM Act in 2003 as a junior senator for New York, Clinton said voters can count on her for immigration reform.
"She had your back then, you need to have her back now," Clinton said.
Clinton also touched on the open U.S. Supreme Court seat, noting his own connection to Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, having nominated the judge to the D.C. Circuit.
Before the Senate confirmed him 97-0, Garland had been the federal prosecutor who won the conviction of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Now that a fragile majority in the Supreme Court is up for play, Clinton said, Republicans don't want to give Garland their vote. With three other justices well into retirement age, Clinton predicted that the next president will fill their seats as well. Clinton appointed two of those justices, 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg and 77-year-old Stephen Breyer. President Ronald Reagan appointed 79-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Antonin Scalia would have turned 80 in March.
Clinton blamed the court's prior conservative-majority dynamic for decisions like Citizens United, which he said belongs in "dustbin of history." He said he believes in a "country where you expand voting rights not contract them."
Poll numbers by Quinnipiac University on Thursday put secretary Clinton 12 points ahead of Sanders for the New York primary on April 19.
The SEIU announced its support of the front-runner back in November, and President Clinton implored workers the crowd Thursday to "get a big vote out for Hillary."
His message drew a burst of "We will!" from the room.Follow @jruss_jruss
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.