In Pine Bluff, Hillary Clinton Says She’s Running To Dismantle Barriers

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking at a rally Sunday at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Credit KATV, Channel 7 News

Ahead of Super Tuesday and fresh off a resounding victory in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton told a supportive crowd of 1,000 at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Sunday that she is running for president to dismantle barriers.

“We will all do better when we’re in this together, when everybody feels like the future can be theirs,” she said.

Clinton, who won 73.5% of the vote in South Carolina Saturday, defended the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and asked how Republicans would replace it. She said one man had told her when she was first lady that when he tried to get health insurance for his two daughters with cystic fibrosis, he had been told by an insurance company that his company didn’t insure burning houses.

She praised Arkansas’ private option, the program that uses federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. She also praised former Governor Mike Beebe, under whom the private option was created, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who supports keeping but changing the program to a version he is calling Arkansas Works. She said the two “have been among the most creative leaders in the country to figure out how to expand Medicaid in Arkansas.”

In a speech heavy on policy, Clinton contrasted her husband’s administration, which she said had “created 23 million new jobs,” with Republicans, who she said are “selling the same snake oil, trickle down economics” that she said had led to the Great Recession in the late 2000s. She said President Obama doesn’t get the credit he deserves for responding to the economic crisis and criticized Republicans for saying it was a slow recovery.

“That does take a lot of nerve because we would not have needed a recovery if we hadn’t been dumped in the ditch in the first place by the failed policies of a Republican administration,” she said.

Clinton said her administration would partner with state and local governments and businesses to create infrastructure jobs – including producing half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term and enough solar panels to power every American home by the end of her second term.

Clinton chided Republicans for their skepticism on climate change, saying they needed to talk to scientists at UAPB about the issue. Clean energy represents an opportunity for economic growth, she said. “I have concluded that the Republican candidates for president don’t really believe what they’re saying,” she said. “They are saying what they’re told to say by the Koch brothers.”

She said she favored raising the federal minimum wage, adding, “If you work full-time in America, you should not end up at the end of the year still in poverty.”

She promised students would not have to go into debt to get a college education, suggesting they could work 10 hours a week to defray the costs and saying loan repayment periods should last no more than 20 years. However, she said that, unlike her opponent in the Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, she did not believe that college should be free for everyone.

“I do not want you to pay to send Donald Trump’s youngest child for free to college,” she said.

She criticized Trump for his statements about preventing Muslims from entering the United States. She said she would not send American ground troops to Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS but would work with coalition partners in the area, who are necessary in the effort.

“So when the leading Republican candidate in his long line of insulting all kind of people insults Islam, insults Muslim-Americans, that makes the job harder,” she said. “It’s not only offensive. It’s dangerous.”

She criticized Republican policies that she said reduced voting rights, and she said the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling on campaign finance should be reversed. “I would appoint Supreme Court justices who cared more about a person’s right to vote than a billionaire’s right to buy an election,” she said.

She said she supported President Obama’s right to nominate a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“It is just beyond my comprehension that the United States Senate, which has a constitutional responsibility to act on a nomination, is basically saying, ‘No, we won’t even consider it. We won’t even look at it,’” she said.