Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton made a campaign stop on the UW-Milwaukee campus on Thursday night where she reiterated her stance on college affordability and women’s rights, jabbing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and real estate tycoon Donald Trump along the way.
“I’d be your president to help deal with those issues, those problems that keep us up at night,” Clinton said. “Like… what happens when you’re a proud union member and your governor wants to drive them away?” Clinton said, referring to Walker’s multiple attempts to dismember unions across the state.
Over 1,000 people came the Wisconsin room in the UWM Student Union, with many in an overflow room, to hear the presidential hopeful speak.
A few protests emerged outside of the Union before Clinton appeared, along with a short lived anti-Clinton chant during her speech, which was drown out by chants of “Hill-a-ry!”
Her appearance on campus came with mixed reviews.
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During her speech, Clinton talked about her intention to get rid of student debt, a plan that she introduced last month. The plan would create a pathway to free secondary schooling for students in the United States, along with creating a refinancing program for students who already have debt.
“You can refinance your home, you can refinance your car…but you can’t refinance you student debt. That is just wrong,” Clinton said.
Kaivahn Sarkaraetpaur is a fifth year student at UWM, and said after Clinton’s speech that her idea to refinance loans is was resonated with him.
“I think it would be helpful. I think education is important and I think for students to go to college and get a better paying job once they finish is important, so giving them that opportunity is a good idea,” he said.
Clinton also showed her support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and mentioned Milwaukee-native Dontre Hamilton’s death by a white police officer. Hamilton, who was black, was killed over a year ago and dozens of protests have been held in his case.
“My heart breaks for the family of Dontre Hamilton,” Clinton said to the crowd, which included Hamilton’s mother.
“We need to restore the trust that has been lost between law enforcement and the people they serve. We need to end the violence that has cast a shadow over Milwaukee and many of our communities,” Clinton said.
She also called for the end of the “era of mass incarceration” and a change in gun laws.
During the rally, titled “Women for Hillary,” Clinton said that having financial security for women who raise their families is her main campaign objective.
“I believe that raising incomes and supporting families is the defining economic challenge of our time. I will make that the focus of my campaign and make that the mission of my presidency,” Clinton said.
She again called for an equal pay act, saying that it is not just a women’s issue, but also a family’s issue and an economic issue.
“It is way past time that we enforce the law and do everything we can do to make sure every person, women or man, gets paid fairly and equally for their time,” Clinton said.
She also took a stance against Gov. Walker’s signing off on legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks and removing some taxpayer based funding from Planned Parenthood.
The College Republicans of UWM issued a statement to the UWM Post, defending Walker’s stance:
“Governor Scott Walker made a positive impact on Wisconsin by defunding Planned Parenthood. While it is important to note that this move did save money for taxpayers, the true significance lies elsewhere. It made a statement that, as a state, we cannot stand by the unethical and amoral practices of Planned Parenthood.”
She also attacked Trump, gawking at comments he made stating that he would be a better advocate of women’s issues.
“You can’t make this stuff up, and that’s a general election debate that is going to be a lot of fun,” she said, suggesting that Trump could be the Republican nominee.
Clinton came to campus amid declining poll numbers, and continuing questions about her email server.
Tuesday night on ABC News’ “World News Tonight with David Muir,” Clinton apologized for using her personal email to do work during her time as secretary of state.
Also on Tuesday, the Quinnipiac University revealed that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders led Clinton 41 percent to 40 percent. While the numbers are still within the margin of error, it is a large gain from the polling group’s July numbers that showed Clinton ahead 52-33 percent.
Some students on campus showed their support for the Democratic opponent over the visiting candidate.
Speakers before Clinton included Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, UWM Vice Chancellor for Partnerships and Innovation Joan Prince, and state Sen. Lena Taylor, who said that Clinton can relate to the voting base through her parents humble roots.
“The fact that she is a champion for children is because of the story of her mother and what her mother went through as someone who had been abandoned. Her father, being a veteran and being a small business man, shaped her knowledge of business and her passion to fight for working people,” Taylor said.
Many wondered why Clinton chose to make her first official Wisconsin campaign stop at UWM, but Student Association president Mike Sportiello said that he was not surprised.
“UW-Milwaukee is a place where social change happens and we’re happy to have a presidential candidate right on our doorstep,” Sportiello said.
Some speculated that Clinton came to Milwaukee because Sanders had already visited and won the support of Wisconsin’s other largely democratic city, Madison. Masha Anderson, chair of the College Democrats at UWM, wanted to put those rumors to rest saying “that is simply not true.”
Anderson, who also spoke at the rally, told the UWM Post that her support is for Clinton because she believes the female candidate will better champion women’s issues.
“That’s the reason I always supported her, because I want someone who I know will actually fight for women’s rights and who will actually care,” Anderson said.
Jenni Mallek, the communications director for College Dems at UWM, said that the Panther campus was the perfect place for her to make her Wisconsin debut.
“Wisconsin needs some love right now because we’re sick of Scott Walker and his cuts and defunding everything we love,” Mallek told the UWM Post.
“We just got higher education cuts, and she talked about loans, and how she wants us to refinance loans and how she wants students to succeed. She talked about planned parenthood up there, and in Wisconsin it’s defunded. I mean there were so many reasons why she chose (to come) here, and I think she made the perfect decision,” Mallek said.