A crowd of hundreds in sweaters and light jackets lined up around the block of Eastern Market on a warm November afternoon Friday in hopes of hearing who could be the first female president speak only four days before they will head to the polls.
Inside, Eastern Market was packed with supporters for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Outside, people tore off the paper and Clinton signs covering market windows to try and catch a glimpse of the candidate.
The visit was not entirely expected, given that Clinton has a lead in the state over her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — the most recent RealClearPolitics aggregate poll put Clinton leading at 45 percent to 41 percent — and Michigan has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.
However, prior to her remarks, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan urged voters in the crowd to make it out to the polls on Tuesday, stressing the importance of the state.
“This election is very close and for the first time in years, Michigan is in play,” Duggan said. “Here’s the truth: I looked at the numbers and Michigan could decide the election. It is possible Michigan is this year’s Florida.”
The FiveThirtyEight election forecast gives Clinton a 76.6 percent chance of winning the state — though her recent heavy campaigning efforts in the state shows she isn’t taking any risks. The Trump campaign, too, is well aware of Michigan’s chances of flipping, and has been working to appeal to Michigan voters over the past week with visits from his vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., all of whom gave speeches. Clinton last spoke in the state at Wayne State University on another critical day for Michigan voters — the day before the voter registration deadline in Michigan.
On the University of Michigan campus, Clinton leads by a significant margin of 70.3 percent to 13.1 percent according to the most recent Michigan Daily poll.
Under the lighting of the Eastern Market windows, Clinton ensured voters she was well aware of Michigan’s needs, highlighting her plans to address issues familiar with many voters in the mitten and calling for support for struggling Michigan cities like Detroit, and for the federal government to address the issues in Flint.
“I want to be a really strong partner with Detroit and other cities on their way up,” she said.
Clinton also praised President Barack Obama’s administration for its work with the federal auto bailout and subsequent assistance to ensuring Detroit stayed afloat.
“Just last year, (Trump) said again it wouldn't have mattered if we had rescued the auto industry or let it go bankrupt,” Clinton said. “What is he talking about? I’m proud that President Obama saved the auto industry. And I’m even prouder that because of the hard work of people in Detroit and across Michigan and the Midwest, the U.S. auto industry just had its best year ever.”
Earlier Friday in a Lansing, Mich. speech, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s vice presidential nominee, took a different stance on the issue, downplaying the Obama administration’s role in the federal auto bailout.
“You here in Michigan know what we know in Indiana, any progress you’ve made in the last seven and a half years has been in spite of what’s happening in Washington, D.C., not because of it,” Pence said. “They tell us this economy is the best we can do, but I think you all here in Michigan know better.”
Though Trump himself had not been in the state, he wasn’t out of mind at Clinton’s Friday event — the nominee spent a considerable portion of her speech warning voters of the potential for a Trump presidency.
“I want you to talk to your friends and your family and your neighbors,” Clinton said. “Michigan is one of these states that doesn’t have early voting. I’ve been all over the country going to states that are already voting. In fact, I don’t know. About 31 to 32-3 million people have already voted in those states. But Michigan votes on Tuesday.”
More than some of her previous speeches in the state, Clinton stressed to voters the importance of choosing her over her opponent.
“I imagine there are – some of you know people who say they’re going to vote for Donald Trump. Right? I know. I know. I understand that,” Clinton said. “I mean, I would hope you would try to stage an intervention before it’s too late. But maybe you could ask them with you to imagine, imagine January 20, 2017. And imagine that my opponent is taking the oath of office in front of the capitol. Imagine having a president who demeans women and mocks the disabled, who insults African Americans and Latinos and Muslims, who personally engages in busting unions and preventing people from having the right to bargain collectively.”
Clinton also reminded the crowd of previous statements Trump has made on his intention to ban Muslim entry into the United States and what she said has been ingenuine and misconstrued support for African Americans.
It’s these kind of statements that draw Lake Orion voter Patrice Allen toward Clinton. Allen, who attended the event, said she has always been a supporter of Clinton and “believe(s) in everything Hillary is for.” When asked why she prefers Clinton over Trump or a third party candidate, Allen replied:
“For one, she’s not a racist. That’s a very big point for me. She’s a woman, and why not have the first woman president?”
Detroit resident Sophia Chaudhry has already submitted her absentee vote for Clinton, for a similar reason.
“She’s nice,” Chaudhry said.