Election 2016

Hillary Clinton emphasizes economic, debt-free college plans on Syracuse campaign stop

Moriah Ratner | Staff Photographer

Clinton spoke at the F-Shed, Central New York Regional Market at 2100 Park Street.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she’s rooting for “the home team” in the NCAA Final Four tournament while on a campaign stop in Syracuse ahead of the New York primary on April 19.

Clinton, a former New York senator, spent the morning at a small roundtable event focused on manufacturing before stopping at Varsity Pizza on South Crouse Avenue. She then spoke to a crowd of about 600 people at the F Shed at the Central New York Regional Market. Her speech, which lasted about 30 minutes, emphasized her support for the manufacturing sector and small businesses in the upstate New York area.

“You know, upstate New York had one of the most storied histories in manufacturing,” she said to huge applause. “We now have a chance to recapture that renaissance in manufacturing.”

The crowd, which was mostly older and white, erupted in cheers as Clinton continued to talk about her support for labor unions, keeping jobs in America and small businesses. She said she would “penalize” businesses that try to move jobs to other countries and promised to never raise taxes on the middle class, but make the wealthy “pay their fair share.”

“We need to stop bashing the American labor movement,” she said.

She also said she supported New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to increase the minimum wage in New York to $15 per hour as well as equal pay, which drew the most cheers from the crowd.

Clinton did not mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal brokered by the Obama administration.

Clinton’s lead has narrowed in New York as the April 19 primary nears, according to recent polls. A Quinnipiac University poll showed Clinton with a 12-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) while an Emerson College survey earlier in March showed Clinton nearly 40 points ahead of Sanders in New York state.

In an effort to contrast herself with Sanders, Clinton talked about the differences between their respective plans to make college more affordable, the difference between her debt-free college plan and Sanders’ free college proposal. Debt free college, as proposed by Clinton, is the idea that students attending college will graduate without any debt. Sanders’ plan, instead, would make tuition free.

“My opponent talks about free college, but you have to read the fine print,” she said. “Whenever someone says something is free, ask about the details.”

She continued to say that Sanders’ plan depends on the support of Republican governors, who would never pitch in the money necessary for his plan to work. Clinton also took issue with the fact that Sanders’ plan would provide free college to everyone, regardless of income level, a point she has often brought up when critiquing Sanders’ plan.

“I’m not giving a penny to give a free college education to Donald Trump’s kids,” she said.

Clinton touted her plan for student loan forgiveness, which would allow borrowers to refinance their loans and debt relief after 20 years. Similar measures are currently being implemented by the Obama administration. In total, Clinton spent about five minutes talking about college affordability.

Clinton only mentioned gun reform once, when she said that she would try to enact “common sense gun safety measure.” This is usually a point of contention between Clinton and Sanders.

Looking forward to the general election, Clinton took the time to blast GOP front-runners Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for their responses to the attacks in Brussels, specifically Cruz’s call to patrol Muslim neighborhoods. She added that she’s the only candidate with a plan to defeat the Islamic State.

“It’s not just offensive what Trump and Cruz say, it’s dangerous,” she said.

She ended her speech with a promise to work with Republicans and to compromise, but to also “stand her ground.” She brought up her experience as a senator from New York in the early 2000s and said she worked with “nearly every Republican to get things done.”

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