Politics & Government

Clinton urges Charlotte voters to reject bluster, break down barriers

Hillary Clinton speaks to Charlotte supporters

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte.
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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte.

Democrat Hillary Clinton called on Charlotte voters Monday to reject “the kind of bluster … and bullying that is stalking our political system.”

“I believe we are better than what we are seeing every night on television,” she told around 1,200 supporters at Grady Cole Center.

She said her election would not only level the playing field for American workers but ensure continued economic growth. She was making her final North Carolina appearance before Tuesday’s primary.

“I want you to have the chance to live up to your God-given potential,” she said. “And the only way to do that is to break down the barriers.”

At one point her remarks were interrupted by a handful of demonstrators protesting what they said was her support of deportations of North Carolina immigrants. “Stop deporting Central American children,” they chanted.

Clinton’s late-night appearance came hours after rival Bernie Sanders spoke to 6,000 mostly young supporters at PNC Pavilion.

The two are fighting for North Carolina’s 121 delegates in what has become an unexpected scramble for the nomination.

Clinton drew a racially diverse crowd of supporters. Some who crowded around a stage touted her experience.

“She has the breadth and depth of experience of being senator and secretary of state,” said Kelly Reddecliff, 45.

Sara Jane Gibson, 36, agreed. “I think she knows what it takes to get things done in Washington,” she said.

Preceding Clinton on stage were Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and U.S. Rep. Alma Adams.

“This election is too important, the stakes are too high, for us to sit on the sidelines,” Adams said.

Tomekia Lowery, 37, an African-American voter, said Clinton is more likely to support the policies of President Barack Obama. She said she doesn’t think Sanders’ proposals are realistic.

“A lot of things he says, he’s not going to be able to do,” she said.

A new Public Policy Polling survey released Monday showed that three of Tuesday’s primaries – Ohio, Illinois and Missouri – were toss-ups, while Clinton had double-digit leads in North Carolina and Florida.

In North Carolina, PPP showed Clinton leading Sanders by 19 points. But polls this month in Michigan showed her with a lead as high as 27 points in the days leading up to the March 8 primary, which she went on to narrowly lose.

Clinton has racked up endorsements in the state. She has the backing of at least 44 of the General Assembly’s 61 Democratic lawmakers, including all Democratic women.

She’s also counting on heavy support from African-Americans, who make up a third of the Democratic primary electorate.

Last week she appeared at Durham’s largely black Hillsdale High School. Flanked by local black Democrats, she stressed her connection to the black community while alluding to the history-making nature of her candidacy.

“I am running to knock down every barrier you face,” she told the audience. “I am not a one-issue candidate because this is not a one-issue country.”

Exit polls in neighboring South Carolina, which held its primary last month, showed Clinton winning 86 percent of the black vote and 79 percent of women’s votes. One demographic group Sanders captured was young voters. He won six of 10 votes from voters 24 and younger.

Republicans were quick to criticize Clinton’s visit.

“No matter how many times Hillary and Bill Clinton visit the state, it won’t change the fact that North Carolina voters have already rejected the Clinton machine three times before,” said Kara Carter, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Clinton lost the 2008 North Carolina primary to then-Sen. Barack Obama, 56 percent to 42 percent.

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