Clinton tells Pittsburgh rally to ‘dream and build together’
Hillary Clinton’s post-convention bus tour rolled through Pittsburgh on Saturday — hours late but on point to a packed crowd at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
“I want us to really believe that America’s best years are ahead,” Clinton told a crowd of several thousand people who waited for hours to get into the building and then hours more for the star of the show to arrive. “But to do that, we have to work together.”
Clinton took the stage about 7 p.m. for an event that was supposed to start at 4:15 p.m. No one seemed to mind.
Emily Martin even dragged attendees of her bachelorette party to the rally, including some who supported Clinton’s primary election rival, Bernie Sanders.
“We waited outside for 2 1⁄2 hours,” Martin, 32, of Squirrel Hill said on her way in. “But it was certainly worth it to see the future president.”
Clinton, 68, on Tuesday became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party. She accepted the nomination Thursday, the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
She and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, along with their spouses, Bill Clinton and Anne Holton, visited Pittsburgh as part of a three-day bus tour. It departed Friday from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, with stops Saturday in Johnstown, Pittsburgh and then Youngstown, Ohio. The tour through the two swing states concludes Sunday with stops in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.
‘I’m hoping I’m hired’
Clinton said she plans to treat the next 100 days leading up to November’s election like a prolonged job interview.
“I’m hoping I’m hired and the other guy is fired,” Clinton told her supporters.
Republicans two weeks ago officially nominated “the other guy” — Donald Trump — as the GOP candidate for president at their convention in Cleveland. Trump made famous the line “You’re fired” on his reality television show “The Apprentice.”
Trump, 70, isn’t ignoring the importance of the same states being targeted by Clinton and Kaine. He will campaign Monday in Columbus, Ohio, and Harrisburg.
Several dozen Trump supporters protested outside the convention center and tried to engage Clinton’s crowd — which stretched around the block — as they entered. A reported 2,000 people were not able to get in, as the third-floor ballroom filled to capacity.
“I’m supporting Trump,” said protester Jim Bare, 66, of Mt. Lebanon. “I’m not crazy about him, but I’m more anti-Hillary. She’d be a total disaster for our country.”
If elected, Clinton said within her first 100 days in office, she would implement a robust infrastructure program to create jobs and rebuild interstates, roads, bridges, ports and the electric grid across the country. Affordable, high-speed Internet access must be available to everyone, she said.
“Five million kids don’t have access to the Internet at home. That’s 5 million kids being left behind,” Clinton said. “How are we going to be a competitive country in the 21st century if we can’t get broadband to every home and business in America?”
Higher wages, equal pay, more jobs and support for trades-related training programs are part of the Clinton agenda, she said, as are free tuition for two years of community college, debt-free graduation from public universities and revamping the existing student loan system to make repayments more affordable.
Mark Cuban headlines Clinton backers
Pittsburgh native and self-made billionaire Mark Cuban introduced Clinton to the gathering inside the convention center.
“I’m ready to vote for a real leader,” said Cuban, a successful entrepreneur who owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and is an investor of “Shark Tank” on ABC. “I’m ready to tell the world that I endorse Hillary Clinton.”
Cuban lauded his upbringing in Pittsburgh and Mt. Lebanon and derided Trump only as a Pittsburgher could.
“Is there a bigger jagoff in the world than Donald Trump?” Cuban asked.
Others who spoke also took shots at Trump, his campaign and Republicans in general.
“They want to make America fearful. They want to divide us,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills. “We’re the city of bridges, not the city of walls.”
Katie McGinty, Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, blasted Trump for encouraging Russia and leader Vladimir Putin to invade allies and hack U.S. government computers.
“What he is spewing is pure poison for pluralism,” McGinty said. “Donald Trump is like a strongman wannabe with this ‘bromance’ with the bad guys.”
McGinty linked her opponent, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Lehigh Valley Republican, to the Republican presidential nominee, referring to the “Trump-Toomey team.” She did the same during a speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.
With his young daughter, Gracie, in tow, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman — a former Sanders supporter — asked Democrats to support Clinton and stand against Trump.
“I think we all know a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for anarchy,” Fetterman said. “I implore you, not as a Democrat or a mayor, but as a father of three. Please, please don’t sit this one out.”
After taking the stage to roaring applause, Kaine introduced himself to the crowd — part of the campaign strategy behind the bus tour across Pennsylvania and Ohio. The ticket also wants to bolster support in heavily Democratic areas, like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as well as to make inroads into Republican-leaning areas and with working-class white voters who comprise much of Trump’s base.
“We’re going to make history on Nov. 8. And then we’re going to make history every day by doing great things for America,” Kaine said. “Hillary’s got plans. Donald Trump has no plans. Not a single plan. He just says, ‘Believe me.’ ”
Clinton’s campaign website lists her return to Pennsylvania on Aug. 15, when she is set to visit Scranton with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
On Saturday, Clinton called her bus trip through Pennsylvania sentimental, as her father was from Scranton and the family drove there each year from their home outside Chicago.
“Pennsylvania … is one of the most beautiful places on earth,” Clinton said.
She called Pittsburgh a “great American city” and lauded the city for reinventing itself after the collapse of the steel industry. Still more must be done for the future, she said.
“This country is really a place that people dream and build together,” Clinton said. “The American dream is not limited, my friends. The American dream is as big as you make it.”
Jason Cato is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or 412-230-7936.