DES MOINES – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton marked Iowa’s first day of early voting Thursday by highlighting plans she has to unify and lift up Americans in contrast to what she called Donald Trump’s negative approach of “dumping” on America as a third-world country.
“We have to heal these divides,” Clinton told about 2,000 supporters who rallied in a downtown plaza while others watched through windows of an eight-story building that served as the event’s backdrop and protesters chanted anti-Hillary slogans from across the street.
“We are starting to vote in Iowa today,” Clinton told Iowans – some who went to a nearby polling station after the event to cast 2016 general-election ballots. “The future of our country, the future of our economy and the future of our society will be on the ballot.
“We have 40 days to win an election that’s going to affect the next 40 years of our country and you, every one of you, can make the difference,” she told the afternoon rally. “The election will be close, but we can win Iowa and we’re going to win on Nov. 8.”
Clinton’s Iowa stop came one day after GOP rival Donald Trump made a similar pitch in Council Bluffs for support in a key swing state that has tilted Republican in recent polls but still appears up for grabs as both major parties begin major efforts to promote absentee and early voting.
“We’re right where we want to be,” said Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, who preceded Clinton’s appearance by telling voters the election is a choice between “change or status quo” and Democrats have “an enthusiasm problem” that is huge and won’t go away, “especially not here in Iowa.”
However, the Iowans who turned out to hear Clinton’s outdoor speech at Cowles Commons appeared to be out to prove the GOP leader wrong by cheering her calls for raising the national wage, paying women equally, aiding families on child-care costs, and easing college debt while making education more affordable and accessible.
“We’re going to have real apprenticeships, not the kind where you’re told you’re fired but the kind where you’re told you’re hired,” said Clinton, taking a dig at her opponent’s former reality TV show.
Clinton said she has a plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure, bolster advanced manufacturing, ease burdensome regulations, aid small businesses and pay for it by requiring wealthy Americans to pay more in taxes.
“I know so much of this campaign has been about whatever my opponent says and who he attacks and who he derides and denigrates – and the list is long,” she said. “But it’s not about that. It’s about you. It’s about your families and your futures and each of us should be telling you what we intend to do with the job.”
Clinton said this week’s debate revealed two starkly different visions for America, with Trump bragging about “gaming” the system to avoid paying taxes and “rooting” for last decade’s housing crisis that made his money while five million Americans lost their homes.
“What I really find so disturbing about this is he spends all of his time just dumping on America, calling us a third-world country, saying our military is a disaster, that everything about America is in bad shape. But then it’s probably true he hasn’t paid a penny in federal taxes to actually support our military, or our vets, or our schools, or our roads, or our education system,” she said.
“It breaks my heart to see all the mean-spirited, divisive, bigoted things that are being said in our country. We can have our differences, for heaven’s sake we’re Americans, that’s in our DNA. But we should respect one another, we should listen to one another – that’s the way we’re going to get things done together,” Clinton added. “We will prove that we are stronger together and you know what else we will prove – that love trumps hate.”
Protesters who stood across the street from the downtown rally waved signs declaring “I’m not with her” or “Liar, liar, pant suit on fire” and showed their displeasure with her message with jeers and chants.
“From her classified emails, secret servers, and the investigation into Benghazi, it’s no wonder Iowans aren’t jumping up and down at the prospect of Hillary Clinton in the White House,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Lindsay Jancek said in an email.