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Hillary Clinton In Dallas: 'Make College Affordable Again'

Gregory Hauenstein via Flickr Creative Commons
A UT/Texas Tribune poll last week put Clinton 30 points ahead of second-place Democrat Bernie Sanders.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was in Dallas on Tuesday. The former secretary of state spent the morning fundraising. Then she revved up hundreds of loyalists packed into a gym at Mountain View College in Oak Cliff.

Clinton spoke for half an hour, detailing plans to raise wages, grow jobs and reform health insurance.

She also played to the students in the room, saying she wants everyone to have the opportunities she has -- and that starts with college.

“I want to make college affordable again and I want you to be able to refinance your debt and save thousands of dollars in order to be able to get on with your lives,” she said.

A day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for a ban on Syrian refugees from entering the state, Clinton said anyone screened and deemed not a threat to national security should be welcomed.

“We can’t act as though we’re shutting the doors to people in need without undermining who we are as Americans and the values we have stood for,” she said.

The rally was Clinton’s third public appearance in Texas this year. She’s been to the state quite a bit for private fundraisers as well. The crowd of supporters hung on every word of the policy-packed stump speech. She pledged she’d defend and expand Obamacare, praised Planned Parenthood and said everyone who turns 18 should automatically be registered to vote.

“I will fight to raise the minimum wage because no one who lives in America and works full-time should have to live in poverty,” she said.

Clinton bashed Republicans for denying climate change and lambasted Abbott for fighting Medicaid expansion. And in a reference to last weekend’s debate, she offered sharp elbows to her Democratic challengers.

“I was actually the only one on that debate stage on Saturday who will commit to raising your wages and not your taxes,” Clinton said.

Striking a more personal tone, Clinton talked about her grandfather, the humble and challenging upbringing her parents had -- and her new granddaughter.

“I really believe that every child -- not just the granddaughter of a former president -- every child deserves to live up to his or her God-given potential,” she says.

This was an adoring crowd. Tons of Hillary swag and there were homemade signs waved with enthusiasm. The most hipster read “Turnt 4 Hillary.” The most confusing: "Hillary Loves Us And We Do To."  

Mallory Beach from Dallas brought her own sign that read “Millennials you say you want a revolution but all you do is Netflix and chill.“

To translate: Quit complaining if you’re not doing anything about it. This community college student said she’s not sure if Clinton is the right person to tackle the big problems that millennials will inherit.

“My head and my heart’s with her but my vote’s still undecided. She’s still got some convincing to do,” Beach said.

But that opinion seemed to be in the minority. Even if they voted for Obama in 2008, most of the people in this crowd are now totally Team Clinton. Like Beth Dawson from Arlington.

“I’m a feminist,” she said. “My son did three tours in Iraq. I know Hillary will totally support our veterans. She supports women. She supports our students.”

“We deserve a woman to be president of America. We tried everything else and I think is going to work best,” said Desmond Sarran of Grand Prairie.

“She was first lady, then she was secretary of state, then she was a senator. So she’s got the experience,” said Anna Wertenbroch of Richardson. “It’s like you’ve planted a tree and let it grow up for a long time and now it’s a very nice tree.”

“We all have a time and a destiny. I believe this is her destiny,” said Marilynn Mays of Dallas.

In her speech, Clinton couched her call for immigration reform in her experience as a young organizer registering voters in South Texas in the '70s. She said she met with immigrants in their living rooms and knows they come to the U.S. just wanting a chance for their kids to thrive.

“That’s what got me 10 years ago and I still support her. The Latinos support her. Si se puede,” said Lidye Barnette.

Barnette says Clinton has it in her to build the kind of excitement among Latinos that Barack Obama did eight years ago. She’ll likely need it to win the White House.

Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.