Rallying a crowd of 1,400 supporters the day after the first presidential debate, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was eager to highlight her opponent’s most controversial comments from Monday night’s faceoff.
Clinton spoke to a capacity crowd at Wake Tech Community College’s gym Tuesday afternoon and brought up the debate within moments of going onstage.
“Did anybody see that debate last night?” she said. “Oh yes – one down, two to go.”
Clinton criticized Donald Trump’s performance in the debate, which was the first of three between the presidential contenders.
“He made very clear that he didn’t prepare for that debate,” she said, noting that he was critical of her decision to take time out from campaign appearances to get ready. “Just trying to keep track of everything he says took a lot of time.”
Clinton said many of Trump’s debate comments didn’t make sense. “What I’ve heard from my opponent is dangerously incoherent,” she said, referring to his take on foreign policy issues. “It’s unclear exactly what he’s saying.”
She pointed to Trump’s admission that he’d cheered for the housing crisis. “That’s called business,” he responded when Clinton brought up the subject.
“I don’t think I’d make a big bragging point about that,” Clinton told the Raleigh crowd. “He basically said yeah, if the housing market crashes, I can go in and buy stuff and make more money. What kind of person would want to root for 9 million families to lose their homes?”
Clinton also repeated her debate claim that Trump does not appear to pay federal taxes, again calling on the billionaire to release his tax returns.
“He actually bragged about gaming the system to get out of paying his fair share of taxes,” she said as the crowd booed. “There’s a strong probability he hasn’t paid federal taxes a lot of years. He probably hasn’t paid a penny to support our vets, or our troops or our schools.”
Clinton vs. McCrory: Clinton criticized North Carolina’s Republican-sponsored voter ID law, which was recently struck down by a federal court.
She said the state’s leaders did “everything they could to make voting harder for people.”
“They were pretty blatant about it – make it harder for people of color, make it harder for the elderly, make it harder for the young,” she said. “Some of that’s been rolled back because it was so wrong, and I would argue, unconstitutional.”
She also had strong words for the law passed in March to limit anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. “The very mean-spirited, wrong-headed decisions by your legislature and governor to pass and sign House Bill 2 has hurt this state, but more than that, it’s hurt people,” she said.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign fired back after the speech, which it called “highly disappointing.”
“She attacked North Carolina values, our voter ID law and the governor – all before mentioning the Charlotte riots,” campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said in a news release.
Clinton briefly mentioned the recent police shooting in Charlotte, where she’d postponed a Sunday visit at the mayor’s request.
“There’s still a lot we don’t know about the recent incidents in Tulsa and Charlotte,” she said. “We’ve got to make it clear that everyone is safer when there’s respect from the law for the communities they protect and respect for the law.”
Higher minimum wage: Clinton promoted her proposals to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and encourage companies to create “profit sharing” deals with their employees.
“I want a fairer economy, because when you work hard, you should not still be in poverty at the end of the year,” she said. “If you work full time on minimum wage, you will make $15,000 a year.”
N.C. Republican Party chairman Robin Hayes panned Clinton’s economic proposals in a news release, arguing that she would “increase taxes, cut jobs and implement more of the same failed policies that have hurt the American people over the last eight years.”
Mayor’s endorsement: While awaiting Clinton’s arrival, the crowd heard from U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross, N.C. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, former Gov. Jim Hunt and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.
McFarlane, who is registered to vote as unaffiliated, endorsed Clinton for the first time during her speech. Hunt, a Democrat who led North Carolina in the 1990s, said Trump cannot be allowed to win the election.
“Donald Trump is dangerous,” he said. “We cannot trust him with the future of our 10 grandchildren.”
Fundraising in Chapel Hill: After the Raleigh rally, Clinton headed to Chapel Hill for a fundraiser where about 165 donors gathered at a private home. Donors had to contribute at least $2,700 to attend, and reporters were not allowed inside.
‘Words matter’ in debate: About 200 people were turned away from the rally and had to watch the speech from an overflow room. Tammy Hall, who waited outside the gym with a group of friends, said she watched the debate and thought Clinton performed “very well.” She added that she hasn’t always been Clinton’s biggest fan, but said that she has her vote in this election.
“She has more experience than Donald Trump,” Hall, of Raleigh, said. She said she thinks Clinton will win not just the state, but also the White House.
Sarah Mason stood outside holding her 6-month-old daughter – who she said she brought today so that she could be “a part of history.”
“There is so much at stake in this election,” Mason, 34, said. “I’m a big believer in what Hillary has been saying – that words matter.”