Clinton campaigns for Flashes’ vote

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves goodbye to supporters at the end of her speech at Kent State’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016.

Alex Delaney-Gesing

Jim Watson stood in the thick of the crowd of 2,900 gathered on the gymnasium floor of Kent State’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center, awaiting the arrival of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

A bright blue “Vote Early” sign lined the back of the bleachers set up to accommodate the students and community members gathered to hear the former secretary of state speak at the podium labeled “Stronger Together.” 

For this election, Watson — a 62-year-old Kent resident — is a registered Republican.  Any other year, though, for the most part, he’s voted Democrat.

“I chose a Republican ballot so I could vote for Kasich against Trump,” he said. “It didn’t work, but at least he didn’t win Ohio.”

Watson hasn’t voted yet, but he said he’s planning on choosing the Democratic side. The controversy surrounding Clinton’s campaign is inconsequential, he said.

“I think the dishonesty the media’s throwing around is just something being pushed by the Republicans,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, in the long run.”

With just eight days before the election, an Investor’s Business Daily / TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence presidential election poll released Monday showed Clinton with a narrow lead ahead of Trump, 45 to 44 percent, with a 3.2-point margin of error. 

Clinton’s lead in the IBD/TIPP polls has slipped since last week, where Trump had trailed behind by 4 points.

Clinton took the podium in her signature pant suit — red — and brown high heels. She greeted the nearly 3,000 attendees huddled close to the barricades, her eyes going first to the people leaning over the edge of the railings on the rec center’s upper levels, blue “Stronger Together” and “Clinton-Kaine” signs dangling over the edge. 

The nominee wasted no time in addressing the latest developments surrounding a collection of emails discovered by the FBI from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. 

The emails were found following an investigation of Abedin’s estranged husband, former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, and an alleged sexting scandal with a minor. The U.S. Justice Department has obtained a warrant to search Abedin’s computer, causing speculation about the possibility of the emails relating to the Clinton campaign.

“I think a lot of people decided a long time ago on what they think about this (investigation),” Clinton said. “I am sure that (the FBI) will reach the same conclusion that they did when they looked at my emails for the last two years.”

Her speech turned to what she said holds far greater importance in the last few days before the General Election: electing the next commander-in-chief.

Having her differences with both Republicans — and even Democrats — over the years isn’t anything new, Clinton said.

“I never doubted their fitness to serve,” she told the crowd. “Donald Trump is different; that’s as serious as it gets. I’m running against a man who says he doesn’t understand why we can’t use the nuclear codes,” she said. 

A topic that shouldn’t — and can’t — be avoided on the morning of Nov. 9, Clinton said, is national security.

She outlined three questions that should be asked of the nation’s next leader before they take office.

“Can you be trusted to command our nuclear arsenal, and make literally life and death decisions about war and peace; How do you handle a crisis; And do you know the difference between our allies and our adversaries?” she asked the crowd. 

The prospect of nuclear war doesn’t appear to faze Trump, Clinton said. A fact, she noted, that could pose a threat to the safety of the citizens in the U.S. and around the world.

“As I’ve said many times, a man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” Clinton said.

She pointed out Trump’s behavior at campaign rallies — where he “loses his cool at the slightest provocation,” she said — as an indication of how he would behave in a national crisis.

Knowing who is and isn’t a friend to the U.S. should be an easy question to answer, Clinton said. “If you got it on an exam, I think you’d be able to answer it. But apparently it’s hard for … Trump.”

She referenced Trump’s meeting  last month with the president of Mexico, where his insistence on his plan for the country to pay for the border wall he intends to build was met with refusal, and is past criticisms of German Chancellor Angela Merkel — whom he compared Clinton to — and her country’s refugee policy.

The relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin — a former KGB intelligence officer during the reign of the Soviet Union — is a cause for concern, Clinton said.

“As former Secretary Madeleine Albright put it, and I quote her, ‘We have never seen a mind meld of the kind between the Russian leadership and a candidate for the presidency of the United States,’” she said. 

This kind of relationship — and possibility of unwanted influence from a foreign adversary — is unprecedented in the country’s history, Clinton said.

”That should scare everyone: Democrat, Republican and independent,” Clinton said. 

The outcome of this election, she said, is in the hands of the voters.

“When your kids and grandkids ask you what you did in 2016, when everything was on the line, I hope you will be able to say: I voted for a better, stronger, fairer America,” she told the millennial-dominated audience.

Jessie Reese, a fifth-year senior visual communication design major at Kent State, and 2016 graduate Abby Sistek, joined the swarm of attendees making for the exit following Clinton’s speech.

Both women are registered independents. Despite not claiming one of the major party sides as their own, they said they’re voting for Clinton next Tuesday.

“This is actually my first time voting; I just registered last week,” Sistek said. “I’ve never really been into politics … but with this election, I’m just more aware of it, have followed it, and realized, I need to vote for it.”

Alex Delaney-Gesing is senior reporter, contact her at [email protected].