Rally draws thousands of Clinton supporters to CMU

photo by Julianne Griffith
Presidential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to an estimated crowd of 2,000 at Carnegie Mellon University’s  Skibo Gymnasium on Wednesday April 6, 2016.

Prior to the April 26 Pennsylvania Democratic Primary, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to a crowd of approximately 2,000 at Carnegie Mellon University’s Skibo Gymnasium on April 6.

Clinton entered the gymnasium at about 6:40 p.m., 40 minutes after her scheduled time. Prior to entering the gym, Clinton spent addressed  more than 1,000 people waiting outside who were denied access to the rally because of space.

The crowd, comprising mainly of young people and senior citizens from a diverse set of backgrounds, erupted into applause and cheers as Clinton, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto walked on stage.

“Wow, what a crowd!” Fitzgerald said as the crowd chanted Clinton’s name, awaiting her speech.

After introductions from Fitzgerald and Peduto, Clinton said she was excited to be in Pittsburgh, a city she said “has moved into the future.”

Clinton focused her speech on climate change, the pitfalls of the Republican presidential candidates and the country’s infrastructure issues.

“I do believe if you are progressive, you need to make progress,” Clinton said. “You gotta get things done. You [have to] bring people together. And that’s what I intend to do.”

Clinton said she would create a national infrastructure bank if she were elected president. Moreover, Clinton expounded on a $10 billion plan that would generate manufacturing jobs.

“Imagine [the U.S.] once again become[s] the manufacturing engine of the world — that we are building what the world needs,” Clinton said.

When Clinton turned to climate change, she rebuked the Republicans running for president, as frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz deny its existence—John Kasich believes human activity causes climate change, said in one of CNN’s debates.

“I care passionately about this, because I actually listen to the scientists,” Clinton said as the crowd cheered her on.

Clinton mentioned two climate change plans she would enact as president. She called first for a North American climate agreement.

“We need to be working with Canada and Mexico,” Clinton said.

As well, she promised to set up 500 million solar panels in the U.S. by the conclusion of her first term — which she claimed would be a boost to the economy.

“These are jobs that must be done here in Pennsylvania and across the United States,” Clinton said. “And these are opportunities for us.”

Clinton mentioned her visit to CMU’s Robotics Institute earlier that day in her speech, saying she was impressed with the university’s research.

“[Clinton’s] very interested in universities that are being innovative with their research,” Stephanie Luger, an organizer for “Hillary For America,” said in an interview following the rally.

Clinton highlighted a difference between the Democratic primary race and Republican primary race.

“I’m proud that we’ve run an issue-oriented campaign in the Democratic primary,” Clinton said. “As far as I can tell, the Republicans have run an insult-oriented campaign.”

Clinton warned the audience that the Republicans will do anything it takes to regain control of the White House, and she said it will be detrimental to the United States if they succeed.

“And if they get the White House plus a Republican Congress, we will not recognize our country,” Clinton said.

During her speech, Clinton took a shot at her opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton said she was ecstatic when 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Summit agreement, and she criticized Sanders for claiming it did not create enough regulations.

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good,” Clinton said to the crowd.

photo by Alexander Popichak
Presidential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton takes one of her infamous
selfies with the crowd of supporters at her rally last Wednesday.

The rally attendees started lining up outside of the Skibo gymnasium a few hours before the doors opened at 4 p.m.

Kris Chandler, a freshman screenwriting and political science double major at Point Park, got in line around 1 p.m. According to Chandler, his early arrival placed him about two or three rows back from the stage.

Chandler, a Clinton supporter, emphasized that he could clearly hear the conviction in the former Secretary of State’s voice during his time at the rally.

“That’s something that doesn’t transfer over well in television or online,” Chandler said in a phone interview. “She makes you feel a part of the story, and she really engages her audience. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Clinton currently holds 1,278 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 1,037. If she were to win the Pennsylvania primary, in which 189 delegates are at stake, on April 26, it would catapult her closer to the 2,383 delegates required to win the Democratic nomination.

Luger foresees Clinton returning to Pittsburgh again along the campaign trail.

“We have a lot of strong support here in Pittsburgh,” Luger said. “We had a fantastic turnout [at the rally]. And we’ve got a lot of enthusiasm here in Pittsburgh and the surrounding counties.”

Editor-Elect Alexander Popichak contributed additional reporting for this piece.