CHARLOTTE — If actions speak louder than words, then Hillary Clinton’s recent deeds give a glimpse into her mindset ahead of the general election — she thinks North Carolina will be a battleground state.
In the span of almost five weeks, the likely Democratic nominee has traveled to the Tar Heel State three times, including a stint with President Barack Obama in his first public act on the campaign trail. Before she accepts her party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this week, Clinton addressed hundreds of volunteers in South Charlotte on Monday by emphasizing North Carolina’s importance and previewing the blunt disparity between the DNC and the RNC.
“We are running a 50-state campaign,” Clinton said. “But of course some states will receive more attention than others and North Carolina is one of them. President Obama had a great victory here in 2008 and I think it’s time that we turn this state blue.”
Obama's capture of North Carolina eight years ago was incredibly rare and decisive in him gaining the presidency. In the past 32 years, no Republican has won the White House without winning North Carolina. According to FiveThirtyEight, Republican nominee Donald Trump would win North Carolina and the general election as a whole if the election were to happen today. That’s mainly because the Republican National Convention recently ended, providing a lift in the polls for Trump as Americans watched the GOP outline their policies and attack Democrats for four consecutive days without rebuttal. Clinton is still favored to win long term.
Clinton, 68, adamantly proclaimed the DNC would be different in tone and structure, implying there would be no blatant hindrances like Melania Trump’s plagiarism or Ted Cruz’s endorsement snub. She specifically cited Donald Trump’s fear-based acceptance speech, saying she was “excited about contrasting [Democrats] vision and values from what we saw from Donald Trump and the Republicans.” She said speakers will share personal stories of overcoming adversity to display positivity and optimism, while most speakers at the RNC simply used their platform to lash out at her. She did not, however, mention the recent revelation of leaked emails that suggest the DNC favored her over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) during primary season. That revelation led to DNC National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resignation becuase of the public outrage by Sanders supporters.
“Donald Trump wants to take his dark, divisive, dangerous campaign to a new level,” Clinton said. “He offered a lot of fear, bigotry and smear during his convention, but I listened really hard to hear any specific plans about how to help any American get ahead and stay ahead in this economy. I listened really hard about how we are going to bring people together. I listened really hard for him to say something that I thought would make a difference in the future we’re trying to build together.”
Dressed in a plaid, colorful jacket, the former Secretary of State went further, saying the real estate mogul offered no strong solutions to the litany of problems he bulleted in speech, some of which “offended” Clinton, like saying America has a weak military and economy. She suggested that him saying, “I am your voice,” in his speech was hypocritical when he has repeatedly slighted marginalized groups such as women, Latinos, and African-Americans over the past year. That remark was well-received from the crowd, which was racially diverse and even had signs written in Spanish.
“I don’t know how you run for President of the United States when you spend most of your time trash-talking it,” Clinton said. “Of course we have problems, but we’re not going to solve them by talking down on them — we’re going to solve them by rolling our sleeves up.”
Clinton said she “couldn’t believe” Trump said “he alone” could fix America’s grievances. One of her campaign slogans is “Stronger Together,” and the former First Lady quickly noted that vigilantism is not plausible for the day-to-day American.
“I don’t know any members of our military who say, ‘I alone can win this battle,’” Clinton said with a raucous applause from the crowd. “I don’t know of any individual police or firefighters who say, ‘I alone can prevent crime or put out this fire.’ I don’t know of any teacher who says ‘ I alone, without any help from anybody else, can help my students learn more and achieve more.’ That’s just not what I believe.”
Hillary Clinton breaks down Donald Trump's claim of "I alone can fix this."
Camille Stephens, a Clinton supporter in the crowd, echoed that she doesn’t want Trump to be president and agreed with most of Clinton’s policies.
“I really like what she stands for in terms of education, creating jobs and helping underprivileged people,” Stephens said.
Prior to Clinton’s speech, which also promoted the Democratic Party’s diversity and urged supporters to register to vote and assist in her campaign, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts backed Clinton and spoke against House Bill 2.
Roberts, a Democrat and the first female mayor of the Queen City, denounced HB2, which among other things requires people to use the restroom that aligns with the gender on their birth certificate. Elon University’s faculty and SGA publicly opposed HB2, a law that has cost the state millions of dollars and recently led to the NBA pulling the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. HB2 was a response to a Charlotte City Council nondiscrimination ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the restroom of their choice. Roberts said she tried to make Charlotte a “21st century city of inclusion,” but said that Gov. Pat McCrory and other state Republicans are opposed to that notion. She said if Clinton were elected president, she would look out for North Carolina’s best interests.
“We know that every single American is important,” Roberts said. “The Republicans in Raleigh don’t care, but Hillary Clinton cares. If she is elected president, every American is going to have access to opportunity.”