Hillary Clinton sure as hell knows her territory. During a 40-minute speech at Monroe Community College Friday, the Democratic presidential candidate kept calling back to her eight years as a US senator for New York and her work in Upstate regions. As always, Clinton is the most prepared person in the room.
At the top of her speech, Clinton lauded the University of Rochester for its medical research on lead poisoning; touted her role in getting funds for RIT’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies; and recalled working with Foodlink and area farmers and vineyards before transitioning smoothly into her stump speech.
But she occasionally came back around to the region by mentioning her Senate record, including her work with Representative Louise Slaughter, who introduced Clinton.
“It’s important to know what people have done in order to figure out what they will do,” Clinton said. “Louise told you about some of the things she and I worked on. I believe public service is about service; giving people the opportunity to make the most out of their own lives.”
Clinton’s speech was charismatic, tight, and pointed, but really nothing new — which could be a tragedy of campaigning during the digital age, when yesterday’s talking points are already trending on Twitter.
Clinton moved through her positions efficiently while laying out how she could get them done. The greatest hits were there: investing in infrastructure, which included an interesting point about bringing affordable high-speed Internet access across the country; bringing back manufacturing to the US; transitioning to green energy; raising the minimum wage and closing the gender wage gap; defending and improving the Affordable Care Act; overturning Citizens United; and changing the education system through universal pre-K and debt-free tuition.
And there was a lot of Republican bashing. It was interesting to note, though, that Clinton mentioned fellow Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders only once during what has turned out to be much more competitive campaign than almost everybody expected. She attacked Sanders for voting against the Brady Bill five times. On guns, Clinton advocates for comprehensive background checks, closing the gun show and online loopholes, and ending immunity for gun manufacturers.
From the cheers and hollers — and the shirts, buttons, and signs — it seemed that the crowd was for the most part already on Clinton’s side throughout her speech. And a large part of her talk was spent urging people to vote in the April 19 primary.
Clinton supporter Lili Vega said she came away from the event with a more positive view of the candidate.
“So many people are saying some nasty things about her,” Vega said. “This helped put her in a more positive light.”
Several attendees said they are confident in their primary vote and just wanted to hear Clinton speak. Emily Schlick, a UR graduate student who is voting for Sanders in the primary, said that she has always liked Clinton, but supports Sanders’ economic policies.
“I love both candidates,” she said, adding that she would be happy to vote for either in the general election.