CLEVELAND (CN) – The polls in Mississippi and Michigan had yet to close on Tuesday night as 1,400 voters gathered downtown to await the arrival of Hillary Clinton.
As the crowd piled into the recreation center at Cuyahoga Community College, they were greeted by the sounds of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” and Katy Perry’s “Roar,” all songs that echoed the upbeat message of Clinton’s campaign.
The positive vibes continued as the Voices of Imani gospel choir warmed up the bleachers of supporters waving flyers bearing Clinton’s “Fighting for Us” campaign slogan.
Then suddenly the music was turned down and CNN’s primary-night coverage turned up. Listening, almost eavesdropping, on the televised proceedings, the crowd burst into cheers and chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A,” as Wolf Blitzer announced Clinton had handily won the Mississippi primary.
Ohio is one of five that will go to the polls on March 15, and securing its 143 delegates is considered a must for anyone seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton’s support among establishment Democrats in the state was very much in evidence with the presence of U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, all of whom took the stage to address the attendees.
Ryan reminded the crowd of the late college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who famously quoted Olympic pole vaulting champion Bob Richards when he said, “Every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people do extraordinary things.”
“Hillary Clinton helps ordinary people do extraordinary things,” Ryan said.
Budish warned of the looming, albeit potential threat posed by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, asking, “Can you imagine what this country would be like a year from now under a President Trump?”
The question, predictably, provoked boos from the audience.
Mayor Frank Jackson spoke of Clinton’s knowledge of the complicated national issues, a theme that was reiterated by Fudge, who described the former secretary of state as “ready to start on day one.”
The endorsements from the northeast Ohio Democrats were followed by such a lengthy hiatus that many in the audience speculated she must be watching the returns from the Michigan primary, which were expected to start rolling in at 9 p.m.
The contest in Michigan ultimately proved to be too close to call, and Clinton emerged from behind a curtain to cheers and chants of “Hil-lar-y! Hil-lar-y.”
“This has been, so far, a campaign focused on the issues and I’m proud of the campaign that Sen. Sanders and I are running,” Clinton said, referring to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“We have our differences, which you can see when we debate, but, I’ll tell you what, those differences pale in comparison to what’s happening on the Republican side. Every time you think it can’t get any uglier, they find a way,” she said.
Clinton then turned to the Republicans, eliciting a long and sustained cheer from crowd with a jibe at that party’s frontrunner, Donald Trump.
“Running for President shouldn’t be about delivering insults, it should be about delivering re-sults,” she said.
Clinton then talked about her goals, among them a desire to install “half-a-million” more solar panels in the United States over the next ten years enough, she said, to power every home in America with clean energy.
She also acknowledged growing concerns in Ohio about children being exposed to lead, stating that “More than 14 percent of Cleveland’s kids have been exposed because of lead in paint.”
She promised that her presidency would tackle the lead problem “everywhere that children are at risk.”
Clinton then railed against corporations that exploit tax credits while moving jobs and operations overseas, calling out Ohio-based Eaton Corporation by name. She also repeated her call for a new “exit tax” on corporations that exploit such inversion deals.
She got rousing applause with calls for paid family leave, equal pay for equal work, and quality public education.
Clinton brought the rally to a close with a call for unity and the rejection of divisiveness. “We’ve got to resist forces trying to drive us apart.”
“If we reach for love and kindness, instead of bluster and bigotry, we can see the best in each other, not the worst,” she said.
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