Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came to the Triangle on Thursday, criticizing Republicans for undermining public education during a campaign rally at Durham’s Hillside High School.
She pledged, if elected, to lead a national teacher recruitment effort and to promote early childhood education.
North Carolina once was known for its commitment to public education, she said.
“We watched your Republican governor and legislature slowly erode the base of public education in this state,” she said.
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“Public education remains the foundation of our democracy.”
The high school gym bleachers were full; many of the attendees were students. A crowd stood in a crush on the gym floor. Several were strongly committed Clinton voters.
Ross Marnock, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, said he had already voted for Clinton.
Much is made of millennial voters’ support for her Democratic primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Marnock said, but Clinton has support among younger voters, too. Being more vocal “is something we as Hillary supporters need to work on,” he said.
The state is nearing the end of the early voting period, which ends Saturday, ahead of the March 15 primary.
Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has scheduled a midday rally Friday in Raleigh.
Though Clinton has won the Southern primaries so far, Sanders’ surprise victory in Michigan this week keeps the contest for the nomination competitive.
Vickie Hayes-McGee came to the rally as a Clinton backer and supporter of President Obama. Hayes-McGee, 50, said she believed Clinton would continue some of the work Obama started.
The mother of a college-age daughter and a son headed for N.C. State, she is interested in “programs or ideas for funding college education.”
But Stanley Norwood, 58, came still weighing his choices.
The Durham resident wanted to hear Clinton talk about closing the gap between the rich and poor, the mass incarceration of black males, and foreign policy.
If Clinton wins the presidency, Norwood said, he hopes she’ll make Sanders part of her administration.
“I’d like to see them collaborate with each other,” he said.