Clinton Talks Jobs, Economy at East High School

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Democratic Party’s nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, pounded away at themes familiar to the Mahoning Valley – manufacturing, trade and future prosperity for working men and women – as she took her message before 1,300 faithful at East High School Saturday evening.

It’s likely this isn’t the last time the Valley will see Clinton before Nov. 8, as she vowed to return to a region that is emerging as central to winning Ohio in the general election.

“It is so great to be back here with you,” Clinton told supporters, many of whom had waited hours for the candidate. She apologized for what turned out to be a nearly three-hour delay to the start of the rally, blaming a line of severe thunderstorms as her bus traveled across Pennsylvania.

Clinton was joined by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and her running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, also joined the candidates onstage.

On Thursday, Clinton became the first women in U.S. history to accept the nomination of a major party as its choice for president. On Friday, her campaign launched a bus tour that began in Philadelphia and moved on to Harrisburg, stopping Saturday in Johnstown and Pittsburgh before ending the day here.

“We wanted to come to Pennsylvania and Ohio because these are two states where people still make things,” Clinton said. “Where people believe that it’s possible to be a builder.”

Both states are crucial battlegrounds for votes in the general election, and Clinton promised to campaign hard in this region against her rival Republican Donald Trump.

The former First Lady, secretary of state and senator praised the work of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, who represents the Mahoning Valley, noting the two have similar goals and ideas.

“I am just the biggest fan of your congressman, Tim Ryan,” Clinton said to cheers. As a U.S. senator, Clinton formed a manufacturing caucus in the U.S. Senate, while Ryan spearheaded a similar effort in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ryan, who spoke shortly before Clinton took the microphone, championed the Youngstown area’s comeback with initiatives such as the Youngstown Business Incubator and America Makes, the first of the Obama Administration’s innovation hubs.

“We have put Youngstown back on the map,” he said. A Trump presidency, Ryan warned, would send the nation and the Mahoning Valley spiraling backwards. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm to make sure that Donald Trump does not become the next president of the United States.”

Clinton didn’t mince words when it came to her rival, reiterating that he is “temperamentally unfit and unqualified” to be president of the United States.

The crowd numbered about 1,300 inside the gymnasium, but another 300 were outside the rally doors in a cafeteria listening to the address over loudspeakers. Many more were turned away because the venue could not accommodate all of the intended guests.

“This is a pleasant problem,” said Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras before the rally started. “We turned thousands of people away because we’re overcapacity. This is an overwhelming show of support.”

Others complained that the logistics were awful – “a disaster” one woman said – and many left the high school after waiting hours for Clinton to arrive.

Betras said he believes Clinton will win Mahoning County with a 60% majority, the magic number pundits think is critical for her winning Ohio. He posited that the significant number of defections to the Republican Party during the primary were actually anti-Trump voters seeking to deny him the party’s nomination.

“We’re going to tell the voters in the Mahoning Valley how he exported jobs, how he screwed the working man, and how he bankrupted his companies six times,” Betras said.

Glenn Johnson, president of United Autoworkers Local 1112, which represents assembly workers at General Motors Co.’s Lordstown Complex, said his organization is working on volunteers to get the word out.

“We are the hotbed, we know that,” he said. Johnson was selected to introduce Clinton at the rally Saturday night, a distinction he says isn’t lost on fellow autoworkers and retirees. “It’s an honor for me, and honor for autoworkers and especially our retired workers.”

About 20 or so Trump supporters stood across the street from the high school with signs advocating support for their candidate. At one point during the rally another protestor unveiled a sign that read “Election Fraud” while Ryan was delivering his speech before Clinton was introduced. The man was escorted out by security.

Kaine called Trump a “one man wrecking crew” that has deceived the American public in the same fashion he’s deceived business associates and workers. “He says ‘Believe Me.’ When you believe Donald Trump, you’re gonna get hurt.”

In contrast, Kaine said Clinton has offered details and a plan of what she hopes to accomplish during her first 100 days in office as opposed to the platitudes and lack of details offered by Trump. “It’s the details you’re entitled to know. That’s what a presidential candidate should be. With Trump, you’re not getting the details.”

Clinton focused most of her attention on how she would build the American economy and stimulate job growth. First and foremost is her plan to implement during her first 100 days in office what she termed the biggest job creation program since World War II. “We’re going to invest in infrastructure, we’re going to build and maintain our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our ports, our airports,” she said.

She called for a massive upgrade of our electrical grid and development of a plan to bring broadband Internet access to every resident and business in the United States, citing a statistic that shows five million students in America don’t have access to the Internet.

The candidate also touched on her ideas for jobs skills and training initiatives, the importance of preserving the right of workers to collectively bargain, and pursuing fair international trade agreements.

“I’m going to invest $10 billion in manufacturing,” she said. “And I’m going to do it by defending American workers. We are not going to let Republican governors and Republican legislatures undermine the right to join a union.”

On trade issues – which strikes a nerve in the Mahoning Valley – Clinton vowed to pursue fair trade deals that are not injurious to the American worker and appoint a trade prosecutor to aggressively go after countries that continuously violate these agreements.

Clinton then launched into a litany of problems with her opponent’s business history, which she says is littered with stories of workers being stiffed, bills not being paid, and deals that allow his clothing products to be manufactured overseas and not in the United States.

“If we’re going to make America great again, Donald Trump ought to start making things in America,” she jibed, playing off Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Clinton acknowledged that there might be some in the Mahoning Valley who are tempted to vote for Trump, but urged her supporters to simply lay out the facts between her platform and his.

“I want you to ask your friends and neighbors: Is this somebody who really cares about the people of the Mahoning Valley?”

The Clinton campaign’s bus tour ends in Columbus today.

“We’re going to be back — we’ll be in the Mahoning Valley” Clinton said to applause. “We’ll be all over Ohio.”

WATCH VIDEO of Clinton’s Speech

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.