Hillary Clinton held a rally in Central Falls Saturday to drum up support ahead of the Rhode Island Democratic primary, which will take place April 26. Supporters gathered in the gymnasium of Central Falls High School to hear the presidential hopeful speak at length about her platform and plan for taking the White House.
From the onset Clinton sought to associate herself with Bill Clinton’s presidential administration, proudly declaring that “more people were raised out of poverty in those eight years than in any comparable decade.”
She contrasted this apparent success with the Republican administration that followed her husband’s. Specifically, she blamed the Bush administration for “tanking the economy,” something she said hit Rhode Islanders especially hard. “There is a direct connection between the failed economic policies of Republicans and what happened to millions of Americans,” Clinton said.
Clinton made a number of sweeping promises throughout the rally including equal pay for women, an increase in available programs for the treatment of addiction and an expansion of the Affordable Care Act. She likened Obamacare to her own “Hillarycare” — the failed health care plan she proposed while she was first lady.
Clinton also addressed ending loopholes for gun sellers at length, characterizing the gun deaths facing Americans as an epidemic. “If something else was killing 33,000 people, we’d be organizing right now to save lives,” she said.
While her goals may have seemed lofty, Clinton promised that she was serious about achieving change if elected and urged voters to monitor her ability to accomplish things moving forward. “I want you to hold me accountable,” she said. “I’m not making promises I can’t keep.”
This sentiment was echoed by some Brown students who attended the event. “There are a lot of students who feel that Hillary is the most pragmatic choice and the most promising candidate to move the Democratic platform forward,” said Sarah Jackson ’16, a member of Brown Students for Hillary. While a number of Brown students support Sanders, Jackson added that she believes most would be willing to back Clinton if she wins the nomination. “Especially given the Republican nominee, people will definitely want to rally against them. … That will help to solidify Democratic support for Hillary,” she said.
“She laid out a very clear mission for what she wants to do and how she wants to make America much better,” said Jeffrey Salvadore ’17, president of Brown Democrats. “That’s why I’m supporting her — because she has really achievable goals, and she knows how to communicate them really well.”
In her campaign, Clinton has received wide support from Rhode Island politicians and figures and was introduced on Saturday by U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-RI, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI. She was also introduced by Gov. Gina Raimondo, who praised Clinton’s plan to “build an economy from the middle up, not the top down.”
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline ’83, D-RI, stumped for Clinton on campus Friday along with Cecile Richards ’80, president of Planned Parenthood, and Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan. Cicilline praised Clinton’s experience and capabilities as a leader, something he contrasted with the characteristics of her Democratic Primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT.
“Bernie has good ideas, but Hillary is tested against Republican attacks,” Cicilline said. At the rally Saturday Clinton rarely mentioned Sanders, whom she referred to as her “esteemed opponent,” and instead focused her criticism on the Republican presidential candidates whose tones she deemed vitriolic and dangerous.
“Donald Trump keeps saying things, and if we buy them, shame on us,” Clinton said, adding, “He wants to go after every right we have.” Clinton often used Trump’s infamously controversial statements to demonstrate his inability to lead, especially in terms of foreign policy.
“When you’re trying to form a coalition against ISIS, you can’t insult the religion of your coalition members,” Clinton said, referring to Trump’s proposal of a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, was also in Clinton’s crosshairs, receiving a mention for comments he has made about special policing of Muslims in New York.
“The best response to this comes from the NYPD commissioner himself: Ted Cruz doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” Clinton said, referring to Commissioner William Bratton’s comments on the issue. Clinton limited her criticisms to Trump and Cruz, not once mentioning Republican candidate Gov. John Kasich by name.
Clinton herself is performing well in Rhode Island. A Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy poll released Sunday found that Clinton leads Sanders by nine percentage points — 43 percent to 34 percent — among likely primary voters.
Despite her strong showing, Clinton still tried to garner every vote possible, imploring audience members to vote in the upcoming primary. “If you vote for me Tuesday, I will stand up and fight for you through this campaign all the way into the White House,” she said.