Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared in Hopkinsville with prominent members of the Kentucky Democratic Party by her side as she took to the stage Monday at the James E. Bruce Convention Center. Former Governor Steve Beshear and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes joined in their support of Clinton and her aspirations to lead the Democratic ticket against Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Neither Beshear nor Grimes mentioned Clinton’s immediate competition to the White House, democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. They focused instead on how she would be a better representative of American values and international diplomacy than Trump.
“We face one of the most dangerous times in the history of the world right now, the threat of nuclear proliferation, terrorism abroad, some at home. There has never been a time than we needed more, a steady experienced hand on that nuclear button. We have in Hillary Clinton, the most experienced candidate than anybody who ever ran for the President of the United States,” says Beshear.
Grimes says the state is projecting 1 in 5 Kentuckians will show up to the polls for the Tuesday primary elections and challenged constituents to do better.
Celia Gant drove with her daughter to the rally from Elkton and says she will be voting for Hillary. She says she’s been a fan of her’s since Bill Clinton ran for president.
“ She is such an incredibly resilient woman. I saw her in Nashville and was very impressed. I just wanted to be this close to the next president,” says Gant.
Hopkinsville resident and teacher Paulette Atkins says she knew Hillary was her candidate of choice “a long time ago.”
“I just feel like it is time for a change and I’m really hopeful that she can bring Congress together and get some actual work done,” says Atkins.
Atkins says she wants Hillary to help with the quality of education.
“I’m a school teacher and education has sort of fallen to the wayside. We’ve had one bad thing happen after another and I think we need to get that back on track for our future, for our children’s future and just for the whole United States,” says Atkins.
Clinton told the crowd of nearly 250 people that “education is still the passport to opportunity.”
“We need to do more for early education and affordable child care.... We need to do more for elementary and secondary education to support our teachers and educators so they are given the kind of tools they need to do the job we ask them to do,” Clinton says.
Clinton promised to fund four-year public schools and offer students with debt opportunities to refinance.
“Higher education, by every study that has been done, is shown to be the driver of economic growth and opportunity... If we don’t invest in higher education we will not get all the jobs that we could get, that’s why for the life of me I don’t understand what your new governor is doing cutting education. I don’t understand it. It’s not just bad for education it's bad for the economy and we have to make that case,” says Clinton.
Peter Macdonald of Hopkinsville says he is still debating between Clinton and Sanders
“I’ve studied both the democratic candidates but haven’t decided. If she is the nominee I’m voting for her, no question about that, but I would still like to hear what Sanders has to say,” says Macdonald.
Macdonald says he just wants a candidate that can “improve the middle class.”
“I just hope that whichever, Hillary or Bernie is the nominee, wins and wins big,” Macdonald says.
Sanders and Clinton both touched on similar issues as they both made stops in western Kentucky. Concerns about mental health, jobs and support for the declining coal industry, substance abuse support for opiate and heroin addiction, help for veterans and equal pay for women.
Clinton said Republicans often blame her for playing the women’s card.
“There she goes playing the Women’s card, I got to tell you if that’s playing the women’s card--deal me in. We should all be playing that card,” Clinton says.
The issue that received the most attention was Clinton’s diplomatic experience as U.S. Secretary of State and her ability to lead as a Commander-in-Chief, an advantage she says she has over Donald Trump.
“When governor Beshear was talking about being Commander-in-Chief I hope that everybody was recognizing that when you vote tomorrow in the primary you are voting for who you wish to be the democratic nominee for president and for Commander-in-Chief. And yes this is a challenging dangerous world, it is complex. We need to have a very clear sense of how we are going to protect ourselves. We need a Commander-in-Chief who will take care of everyone in Fort Campbell and the men and women in uniform. We will take care of our veterans who have served this country. I feel that passionately as the obligation,” Clinton says.
Clinton says when she served on the Armed Services Committee she saw clearly the threats that face the nation.
“I know how important it is that we use diplomacy, it may not make headlines, it may be boring but it is the best way to solve problems,” says Clinton.
8th District State House Representative Jeff Taylor (D-Hopkinsville) says Clinton is a proven Commander-in-Chief and is his pick for the next President.
“I think she will bring the diversity to the White House that we need. I think that she's the one that's got the diplomacy to keep us on sound standing internationally," says Taylor.
The Democratic Primary elections are Tuesday the 17th.