FLINT, Mich. — Hillary Clinton detoured from New Hampshire to Flint on Sunday for a quick visit to speak with people who've been directly affected by the lead-tainted water crisis.
Aides said she was invited by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. Clinton attended a town hall meeting with Flint residents and Weaver before speaking to churchgoers. The democratic presidential candidate spent just a few hours in Michigan before returning to New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on Tuesday.
Clinton has pointed to the crisis of lead-poisoned water in Flint—which she called "immoral" on Sunday—as an example of racial and economic injustice. That's an issue that resonates among Democrats, particularly African-American voters.
She told a parishioners at the House Of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday that repairing trust with people was just as important as repairing the city's lead pipes, while making a personal commitment to helping the city move forward.
"Clean water is not optional my friends, it is not a luxury," Clinton said on Sunday. "If what had been happening in Flint had been happening in Grosse Pointe or Bloomfield Hills I think we all know we would have had a solution yesterday."
The Democratic presidential candidate said in Thursday's debate that the federal government needs to hold Michigan responsible for the situation in Flint, while finding ways to remedy the "terrible burden" that people in Flint are facing, such as helping to pay for health care costs.
Clinton used Sunday's visit to push for passage of a $600 million federal aid bill proposed by Senate Democrats to help Flint. Last week, Democrats blocked an energy bill in the Republican-controlled Senate to try to force action on the Flint provision.
In January, Governor Rick Snyder requested President Obama declare an emergency declaration for the city and provide additional federal aid. Both were later approved, but the federal government has been reluctant to declare a major disaster in Flint, contending it was man-made not a natural disaster.
Flint is under a state of emergency because the water supply is contaminated with lead from old pipes.
"The children of Flint are just as precious as the children of any part of America, they are just as deserving of good healthcare, of good education and of bright futures," she said.
"This is not nearly unacceptable or wrong—though it is both—what happened in Flint is immoral."
The visit comes just days after it was announced Clinton and Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders will face off in a primetime Democratic Presidential Debate in Flint on March 6, two days before the Michigan primary election.
In response to Clinton's stop in Flint, the Michigan Republican party said she was using the people of Flint as political pawns.
"This visit is not an act of benevolence; it is a calculated campaign tactic, an attempt to grab headlines by a struggling campaign," MRP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a statement. "As a candidate who proclaimed that the enemies she is most proud of are Republicans, I doubt that Hillary Clinton is here to contribute to the bipartisan effort to fix this crisis."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.