USF’s Campus Recreation Center filled up with frantic fans Tuesday dressed in swag, echoing chants of “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary” and “I’m with her” while holding handmade signs with similar slogans.
Chants started up about 45 minutes before the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, took the stage, circulating around the crowd with a new one every few minutes. She made her entry to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Despite conflicting class schedules for students, the 1,500-person capacity Rec Center filled up for Clinton.
This was Clinton’s fourth rally in Tampa Bay since announcing her campaign last year. While Florida is classified as a swing state — and therefore gets more attention from candidates during campaign season — the state has swung in the direction of the Democrats for the past two presidential elections in close runs.
“Everyone knows what an important state Florida is, and its not always because it’s a hard-fought state,” Clinton said. “It’s because Florida shows all of the excitement and … the opportunities as well as the challenges and problems that we have to face together.”
Clinton usually tailors her speech to the state and venue in which she is appearing. At her speech in Ybor City in March, she talked about the local economy and improvements to the Port of Tampa.
She spoke to the Rec Center crowd about education, military spending and veteran concerns and ways to improve the economy.
Clinton argues for more affordable college tuition.
Her issues include free tuition at community colleges, along with lower overall tuition rates, reinstating vocational education, “lifting the burden” of student debt and establishing an apprenticeship program.
“I am going to make a tax credit to any company who is willing to pay a young person while that young person is learning the job at the same time,” she said. “I want university pre-pay, I want to help more kids get a better start … I want to work with our teachers and educators … and I want to give them the support they need to do the job we ask.”
She made the case that she wants to support universities because of 50,000 students, 40 percent receive Pell grants.
“I know what it’s like to show up and not know if you’re going to make it,” she said.
Clinton also shared her experience starting at college and calling home saying, “I can’t do this, everybody’s smarter than me,” and having her mother convince her to keep going.
When it comes to the military and returning veterans, Clinton spoke on ensuring the availability of health care including psychiatric aid and a plan against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to “bring ISIS to justice and end their reign of terror.”
“I will give our military everything they need when they’re overseas,” she said. “I will support them with the care and benefits that they deserve when they come back home including job training and mental health care. I will work closely with our allies not just to contain ISIS but to control them.”
Her comments on increasing the amount of solar energy the U.S. is producing received a large response from the crowd as she promised to install half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term and push to produce enough solar energy to “power every home in America” by the end of eight years.
“I want young people especially to be a part of this,” she said. “To be in science, technology, engineering, manufacturing, creating this future that will determine the quality of your lives and the competitiveness of our economy.”
Additionally, she touched on other issues including the need to have internet access to all schools, the possibility of reinstating vocational schools, creating a public health rapid response fund, ensuring equal pay for equal work and implementing comprehensive background checks for those looking to get a gun in an attempt to decrease gun violence.
On the topic of where the funding for such programs will come from, Clinton had a distinct answer.
“We’re going where the money is,” she said. “We’re going to the people who’ve made the money in the past 15 years. We’re going to the top one 10 percent … They’re going to have to start paying for supporting our military, supporting our education system, supporting our health care system.”
Clinton also took the opportunity to discuss her opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, for not releasing concrete plans and pitting Americans against Americans.
“After all his talk, the only thing that’s clear is he has no clue about what he’s talking about,” Clinton said. “And rather than work with our allies, he chooses to insult them. Just last week, in a few hours he managed to turn his trip to Mexico into an embarrassing national incident.”
According to the most recent poll by the New York Times, Clinton is leading at Trump 44 percent to 40 percent.
“These rights are not for somebody else,” she said. “We all know someone. We all know a woman. We all know somebody in a racial or ethnic minority. We all know a worker or a voter. We all know a gay person and we all know somebody with a disability. These are our rights.”