Clinton highlights women’s rights, education at Cleveland rally

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at Cuyahoga Community College on Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Alex Delaney-Gesing

In her first Cleveland appearance since August, Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the significance of the American people reaching for more “love and kindness” rather than the “bluster and bigotry” seen in the GOP candidates in her rally at the Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan campus’ Recreation Center.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge began the night by introducing U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, who expressed his support for the former secretary of state.

“This campaign and this candidate is about ordinary people like us doing extraordinary things,” Ryan said. “It’s our turn in Ohio to send her to the White House.”

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish stressed the importance of Clinton taking Ohio during the primary and later in the November election.

“If we want to protect women’s health care rights, workers’ rights, voting rights and stop the billionaires from buying elections, then we have to change the Supreme Court in the U.S.,” Budish said.

Following her New Hampshire primary loss, Clinton has won 11 of the 17 states’ contests in the last few weeks. With these victories, she has gained a firm lead ahead of her opposition, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson helped kick off the event by announcing his endorsement of Clinton.

“I want to welcome Sen. Clinton on coming back here,” Jackson said. “She understands the issues and has the courage to make decisions, the right decisions, for us.”

Coming off of the most recent Democratic presidential debate held Sunday evening in Flint, Michigan, and arriving on stage following the announcement of being named the winner of the Mississippi primary, Clinton spoke on the deadly lead poisoning in not just Flint, but other cities across the nation, including Jackson, Mississippi, and  — hitting close to home — Cleveland.

“More than 14 percent of Cleveland’s kids have been exposed because of lead in paint because (the city) has problems with lead in both the soil and water,” she said. “We’re going to tackle this problem everywhere our children are at risk.”

A group of Clinton supporters and volunteers from the newly opened Clinton campaign headquarters in Akron sat front row at the rally, displaying their stickers of support on their hats and suits.

Campaign volunteer and Akron resident Jackie DeBose traveled to Cleveland to “shut it down” for Clinton. She said she’s supporting Clinton because of her belief that it’s time a woman took over the oval office.

“I want no stone unturned for Hillary; we either go big or go home,” she said. “She represents not just a better country for the privileged, but for everyone.”

DeBose said she has worked everyday campaigning for the former secretary of state. Because she doesn’t have extra money to give, she said she’s giving the next best thing: her time.

“It’s the least I can do for her,” DeBose said.

Gloria Rookard, also an Akron resident and volunteer at the Akron campaign headquarters, said she believes Clinton has the right credentials and more experience than any other candidate on the ballot to take over as president.

“If she remains steadfast in her run, she has enough political capital to get things done and change our country for the better,” she said.

Rookard feels strongly that Clinton’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour can only bring good things for the country.

“My hope is that Hillary is able to stay true to the things she’s expressed because people need jobs now more than ever,” she said. “With the way the economy is right now, people can’t live on anything less than $11.”

Clinton made a point of mentioning a topic many Cleveland residents, and those across Northeast Ohio, hold close to their heart.

“When Tamir Rice was shot, that was painful for everybody,” she said. “We have to break down all our barriers that are still rooted in bigotry and prejudice and bias.”

A long time advocate for women’s rights, Clinton spoke on her desire for high-quality education nationwide.

“Don’t you think it’s time for equal pay for equal work for women?” she asked. “And let’s break down the barriers and stop our children from getting the quality education they need. Every child should have a good school and teacher, no matter what zip code they’re from.”

Clinton concluded her speech by reiterating the point of not being a country divided, but one united.

“What’s important is we’ve got to focus on how we bring back our country. This decisiveness, the mean-spiritedness. That’s not going to move us forward,” she said. “If we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down, there’s nothing we can’t do together.”

As of Sunday, Clinton has won 673 delegates, while Sanders has received 477, according to realclearpolitics.com.

Clinton will need 2,383 delegates in order to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

In contrast, Republican GOP candidate leader Donald Trump has won 384 delegates, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz currently trailing in second with 300 delegates, according to a 2016 primary results and calendar published by the New York Times. The Republican contenders will face off in a winner-take-all election for the 66 available delegates in Ohio.

Contact Alex Delaney-Gesing at [email protected].