CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As the Democratic National Convention kicked off in Philadelphia, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to thousands of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members in Charlotte Monday.
Clinton arrived around 11:30 a.m. at the 117th VFW National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in uptown, located at 501 S. College Street. The convention, bringing an estimated 12,000 members, started Saturday.
Clinton took the stage, first thanking veterans for continuing to push the nation to live up to obligations of those who serve. "I thank you for what you've done behind the scenes, as well as in public to make sure that America keeps our promises," Clinton said.
She spoke about being the daughter of a veteran, relating to the audience. "How do we keep our country safe? How do we make the world safer?," Clinton asked. "These challenges matter to me."
"I have visited our troops in theaters of war and tension. I know how serious this is. Force must only be used as a last resort, and only with a clear, and well thought out strategy," Clinton said.
The former secretary of state announced Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate just three days ahead of her visit.
Clinton said Kaine's son is a marine, deploying today to defend NATO allies.
"Americans aren't just choosing a president, we're also choosing a commander in chief," Clinton said about the president's position regarding war.
Clinton wrapped up her speech around noon ahead of her next stop, where she will to meet with campaign volunteers at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte's NoDa area.
"God bless the United States," Clinton concluded.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is expected to speak at the VFW Tuesday, following a campaign rally in Winston-Salem Monday evening.
"We are very fortunate to have both presidential candidates speaking to us next week," VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said last week. "It continues a longstanding VFW tradition to provide an opportunity for those seeking the nation's highest office to address the nation's largest and oldest major war veterans' organization, which is especially important during a time of war and instability abroad, as well as internal challenges at home," he said.
"What we hope to hear from both candidates is how they will fight our enemies while keeping America safe through strong national defense and homeland security programs," he said. "We also want to know how they will create, enhance and protect veteran and military health care programs and quality of life initiatives, such as educational benefits, job training and employment programs, as well as hear a renewed commitment to return our fallen from their battlefields."
Invited guest speakers include Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald, Undersecretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin, Acting Undersecretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy, Selective Service System Director Lawrence Romo, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-9th/NC), among many others.
The VFW National Convention is not open to the public.