The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit was packed with 400 people on Monday for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s last rally before the March 8 Michigan primary.
Michigan’s primary allocates 130 delegates, a significant amount at this stage in the primary cycle. Challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–Vt.) held a rally the same evening in the University of Michigan’s Crisler Center.
Clinton is anticipated to win the Michigan primary by a 20-point margin according to RealClearPolitics.
During Monday’s rally, Clinton avoided mention of her primary rival and instead focused a series of attacks on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump — whose mention resulted in a strong negative reaction from the crowd.
Clinton encouraged her supporters to vote for her Tuesday so that she could secure the nomination soon, allowing her to focus on the eventual Republican nominee instead of Sanders.
“We will not a let a person like that become president of the United States,” she said. “The sooner I could become your nominee, the more I can turn attention to the Republicans.”
Prior to Clinton’s appearance, the crowd heard from elected officials who have previously endorsed her, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Dearborn) and Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones.
Just before Clinton walked onstage, overhead speakers also played a message emphasizing Hillary’s support for Flint, and Clinton began her speech by further acknowledging the crisis and repeating her promise to stand by the people of Flint.
During Sunday’s Democratic debate in Flint, Clinton was asked if her support for the city was a political maneuver. On Monday, she reiterated that her intention is to continuously support Flint, drawing attention to the crisis and supporting the residents.
“I’m going to keep shining a bright spotlight on Flint,” she said. “We have made a commitment to help Flint recover and give them the opportunity to be even better after they do so.”
Clinton also discussed her plans to decrease the student debt burden through her $350 billion plan to help students pay for college and reduce interest rates. Her platform on student debt has the support of both Dingell and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.), who have both introduced student loan refinancing acts and are large proponents for reducing student debt and increasing college affordability.
University alum Neil Shah, who attended the event, said one of the many reasons he supports Clinton is her pledge to reduce student debt. As a recent graduate, he noted, his student loans have a continuing impact on his life.
“She has plans to provide student loan forgiveness for people like me,” he said. “People who have jobs but are not making enough to save for my future. I’m more focused on paying off my loans than savings for my future and she helps change that.”
Clinton also spent time discussing the state of Detroit Public School’s deteriorating infrastructure. The district’s approximately $3.5 billion debt has led to a severe lack of infrastructure repairs, causing issues like mold and rodent infestations.
She called upon Gov. Rick Snyder to remove the emergency manager that he instituted to manage Detroit Public Schools as a fix to the problems.
“Let’s make sure that every child in every zip code gets a good education,” she said. “In the Detroit Public Schools, under an emergency manager, we’ve got children in classrooms filled with mold and rodents. I think that the governor should turn back the control of the schools to the people of Detroit.”
Robyn McCoy, an attorney with the Michigan Children’s Law Center in attendance, said she thought the choice to hold the rally in Detroit and her attention to local issues demonstrates Clinton's appeal.
“I think that this was a key location,” she said. “It shows the strengths of Hillary as a candidate that she is so well versed in local issues like Detroit Public Schools. It shows that she is multifaceted. She can help us on a local level and a national level.”