CHARLOTTE — Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived Monday night at Grady Cole Center eager to deliver one final speech to North Carolina voters before the state's Tuesday primary.
With racial injustice, gun violence and climate change dominating her policy-oriented rally, Clinton spoke to her supporters' optimism amidst a period of deep political division.
“I want you to live up to your God-given potential, and I want America to live up to its God-given potential,” Clinton said. “It’s time to do what we need to do to break down the barriers made by people who are ahead and stay ahead.”
With a clutch primary on the way and North Carolina supporters eager to hear from the candidate, especially after the rally had been postponed from 7 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., Clinton stood before a crowd of more than 1,100 people.
Clinton immediately asked the audience to imagine a United States with a stable and growing economy, one that has “enough good paying jobs with increasing income that’s very future oriented.”
She challenged them to envision a nation focused on slowing climate change, free of gun violence, socioeconomic inequities and racial divisions.
But after speaking to the audience's confidence for a better future, she lashed out at the Republican Party.
“What we don’t need to imagine is that everything I just said I wanted to do, Republicans do not … Many of them don’t even believe in climate change,” Clinton said. “Now I don’t think they’re so misinformed as I think they do whatever the Koch brothers tell them to.”
The billionaire brothers are generous donors and activists for Republicans and contribute to the growing belief that politicians can be easily controlled.
Clinton said she would put the public's interest as a priority over wealthy campaign contributors.
“If I’m your nominee, then I’ll wage a campaign that will try to put America's interests first," Clinton said.
Several primary rallies in Illinois — another March 15 primary state — delayed Monday night's rally in Charlotte. During the Charlotte rally, Clinton said she recently spoke with many Chicago residents about a host of issues. According to Clinton, gun violence was a major topic of discussion for those demanding policy change.
Clinton said she was touched by their words and stories and said her proposals are in line with the U.S. Constitution.
"Everyone's heartsick, but nothing is changing," Clinton said. "I think what I'm proposing is common sense and consistent with the Constitution. We need comprehensive background checks and to close out the Charleston loophole."
The Charleston loophole was named after the June 17, 2015, church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine people dead.
The culprit, 21-year-old Dylan Roof, was able to acquire a .45-caliber handgun despite an arrest record that should have prohibited the purchase.
Despite a persistent message of hope and tolerance, the rally was not without its fair share of protests. Many of the protesters said she must be held more accountable for her stances on immigration and her history with deporting Hispanics.
Just minutes after Clinton began speaking, three men carried signs that read, “Education not Deportation," and chanted, “Stop deporting Central American children.”
Despite the diversion of the audience's and media's attention, she remained calm and continued to speak without pause, eventually drawing eyes and ears back to the center stage.
Though she didn't acknowledge the protests, she did address the issue of immigration by denouncing Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's stance on the issue.
"We have to stand up to the hateful, divisive rhetoric that is plaguing relationships in this country," Clinton said.
Clinton concluded the rally by encouraging her supporters to cast their ballots on her behalf and help her seize control of the presidency.
"Please join me in the White House to make this country everything it should be,” she said.
Though the rally was informative, some of the more memorable moments occurred before Clinton took the stage.
Congresswoman Dr. Alma Adams, who represents North Carolina’s 12th district, helped introduce and endorse Clinton as the best fit to serve the Tar Heel State because of her experience and her more realistic proposals.
“The stakes are too high to sit on the sidelines,” Adams said. “There’s a lot of work to be done in Congress, and it can’t be done with Cruz or Trump.”
Adams continued by listing several of Clinton’s qualifications that make her the most viable candidate.
“We need a fighter like Hillary,” Adams said. “She has the best resume of any candidate. She was secretary of state, she’s been a senator and she’s even been in the White House before. We need her voice now more than ever.”