In Wilmington, Clinton speaks at rally on day before primary

WILMINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visited Delaware Monday — just one day before the state’s primary — in an all-out effort to energize her voter base.

The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state told an audience packed into the theater at World Cafe Live at The Queen that as president she will fight for minorities, combat climate change and improve the well-being of those in the middle and working classes.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Her 30-minute speech was punctuated by applause and cheers from the partisan crowd which broke out into chants of “Hill-a-ry” before and after her speech.

“Here’s what I promise you,” she said. “If you will go out and vote for me tomorrow, I will stand up and fight for you through this campaign all the way into the White House and every single day I will get up trying to figure out how I can improve the lives and protect the American people and make sure our children have the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.

“That’s what we can do together, my friends!”

Her visit, announced Friday, came after Republican candidate Donald Trump spoke in Harrington Friday and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders made a stop in Wilmington Saturday.

The venue for Monday’s speech was much smaller in comparison to the sites that hosted the other two presidential hopefuls.

A large banner for the Clinton campaign hung behind the stage, and several attendees held homemade signs showing their support for the Democrat.

Though most of her address applied to the nation as a whole, she made a few specific references to the state. She expressed sadness at the deaths of former Attorney General Beau Biden, son of the vice president, and of Amy Inita Joyner-Francis, a 16-year-old killed at Howard High School in Wilmington last week.

Calling the creation of “good jobs with rising income” her top priority, Secretary Clinton cited the policies set by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and pledged to continue the work of President Obama.

“I want to grow the economy but I want the growth to be fair,” she said. “I want everybody to benefit from the prosperity the way we did back in the ‘90s.”

Secretary Clinton, who is backed by five of Delaware’s 10 superdelegates, is thought to have the advantage over Sen. Sanders today, although polls for Delaware are few and far between.

The three members of the state’s congressional delegation, all Democrats, spoke before Secretary Clinton and she was then introduced by Gov. Jack Markell.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons said she is “fully capable of being one of the greatest American presidents starting from her first day.”

Gov. Markell called her “the most qualified candidate to run for president in my lifetime.”

Issues such gun control, abortion rights and expanded mental-health treatment all drew loud cheers from spectators, who stood close to the stage.

Although she mentioned Republican presidential candidates only a few times, Secretary Clinton issued criticisms of the GOP. Referencing her husband, she claimed the strong economy of the 1990s stumbled after George W. Bush was elected president in 2000.

“We have to learn the lessons of the past. So when you hear Trump and (Sen. Ted) Cruz and the Republicans talking about their economic policies, they want to go back to what failed us before,” she said.

“Make no mistake about it, they talk a good game, but if you look at what they actually are putting out, they want to slash taxes on the wealthy more than they ever have been. I want to raise taxes on the wealthy so they are paying their share and supporting our country.”

Secretary Clinton told the audience she would not raise taxes on the middle class and claimed she is the only candidate willing to make such a promise.

She emphasized that voters had the chance to make history by electing the first woman president.

Secretary Clinton’s mentions of Mr. Trump’s criticisms of Islam and Sen. Cruz’ calls for special patrols of Muslim neighborhoods caused audience members to boo.

Annette Woolard-Provine, who said she agrees with Secretary Clinton on “almost everything,” found the speech inspiring.

The Wilmington resident voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 primary but is hoping the former first lady can win this time around.

“I think she’s really thought about the issues very deeply, she’s had a lot of experience so she knows what the hell she’s talking about, which is not true with all of the candidates,” she said afterward.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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