Hillary Clinton spoke to more than 1,000 people at the College yesterday

by Parker Richards | 11/11/15 7:36am

Former N.H. Gov. John Lynch asked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton questions.
by Tiffany Zhai / The Dartmouth

Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to more than 1,000 members of the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities Tuesday afternoon, focusing her remarks on economic policy.

Clinton was the third speaker in the Tuck School of Business and Rockefeller Center’s “America’s Economic Future” speaker series this election, following Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and former Gov. George Pataki (R-N.Y.), who spoke in the last few weeks.

Clinton emphasized relief and tax breaks for working families and the middle class while investing in infrastructure and trade throughout the country.

“Many of our neighbors are struggling, struggling to get by, and for me, nothing is more haunting than the number of American kids living in poverty today,” Clinton said.

Clinton called for a guaranteed debt-free college education at all public universities in the country and for loosened restrictions on college debt refinancing.

“In America, where you live, what you look like should not determine whether you succeed or not,” she said. “I think talent is universal, but opportunity isn’t.”

Clinton also advocated for increased funding for education, including funding for the roughly 51 percent of public school students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches as well as college students and graduates struggling with debt.

“Under my new college compact, no one will have to borrow a dime to pay tuition at any public college or university,” she said. “In many states, quality child care costs more than college tuition.”

Clinton advocated “family economics” centered on middle class families and aimed at equalizing the tax code between different sectors of society.

“Fairness is why I support making smart investments in struggling communities, from inner cities to coal country to Indian country,” she said. “You should aspire to do more, to build a business that provides lasting value, the sort of business that will make us stronger, fairer and richer.”

Investment in infrastructure, struggling communities and scientific research is a major component to jump-starting the American economy, Clinton said. She attributed a great deal of the economic recovery following the 2008 Wall Street crash and recession to President Barack Obama.

Clinton praised Obama’s work in a number of areas, including health care reform, military policy and economic reform, specifically tougher rules for governing the financial sector.

“I will stand firm against any effort to role back the protections we have already put in place,” she said.

U.S. infrastructure needs to be radically updated, Clinton said. Broadband access, transportation systems and educational infrastructure are important areas to be built upon, she said.

“Our broadband system is woefully behind and more expensive than most advanced economies,” she said.

A variety of College-affiliated and local political figures appeared at the event before Clinton took the stage, including Rockefeller Center director Andrew Samwick and Dean of the Tuck School of Business Matthew Slaughter.

State Sen. David Pierce (D-Lebanon) spoke about his support for Clinton and the need for economic policies that could address the needs of middle class Americans.

“Secretary Clinton believes — as do I — that the system is rigged against the middle class toward those at the top,” Pierce said.

Clinton was introduced by former Gov. John Lynch (D-N.H.) and his daughter Julia Lynch ’11 Tu’16. Gov. Lynch also asked Clinton questions in a later discussion, where the two sat in armchairs facing one another.

Clinton responded to a series of questions from John Lynch, community members and students on a variety of topics.

Clinton discussed the need for an aggressive American policy in the South China Sea to deter Chinese expansion, although she stopped short of the full military action advocated by candidates like Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.).

“As president, you have to be focused on the immediate, the problems that are brewing and the longer-term problems on the horizon,” she said.

“Smart power” diplomacy must be used to deter Chinese forces from securing islands in the South China Sea to threaten American allies and expand their own blue water naval potential, Clinton said.

“It’s really important that the United States remain a Pacific power,” she said.

Syria — where the Islamic State has been growing more powerful as established government forces have faltered — should not be an area for direct military intervention by American forces, Clinton said.

The Islamic State represents a “growing global threat” that can only be addressed in partnership with other nations, she said. Clinton advocated continuing to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces to fight Islamic extremism in the Middle East rather than deploying American troops to the region.

Chris Foley Tu’16 asked Clinton about her views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to which Clinton recently came out in opposition. The TPP failed to adequately control currency manipulation, Clinton said. Clinton said she stands for “trade plus,” which she described as a combined emphasis on foreign trade, workforce development and domestic policy.

“I want us to get our own act together, then I think we can out-compete anybody,” she said.

Clinton criticized the anger-induced politics of some candidates, specifically sighting Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump, the current leader in many national polls of the Republican primary field.

“I always got along with him when he was my constituent before running for president, and I have been quite surprised by some of what he’s said as a candidate,” she said.

Still, Clinton is ready to face Trump if she wins her party’s nomination, she said.

“I hope to be the candidate, and I will run against anyone they nominate, and if it’s him, put on your seat belts,” she said.

Responding to a question on women’s rights from Saphfire Brown ’18, Clinton said while she has seen major progress in her lifetime, “we still have a long way to go.”

The focus on creating gender equity must be on pay equity, Clinton said. Although major strides have been made, the fact that men can still earn more than women in the same jobs is abhorrent, she said. Clinton said the best way to advance the cause of pay equity would be to elect her president.

“There are just a lot of ways we’ve got to open our minds and open doors, we need every young man and every young woman to make his or her contribution to America,” she said. “We need to quit thinking in old, outdated ways about women and girls.”

Many parts of Clinton’s speech were met with applause, and audience members interviewed by The Dartmouth expressed satisfaction with her speech.

“I thought she answered questions in a very systematic and detailed manner that is indicative of the kind of president she would be,” Dartmouth for Hillary Clinton organizer and campus digital captain for New Hampshire for Hillary at Dartmouth Charlotte Blatt ’18 said.

The Dartmouth for Hillary Facebook group currently has 222 members, an increase from earlier in the term when it trailed the groups for both Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.). Currently, Dartmouth Students and Staff for Bernie still has more at 313 members, while Dartmouth for Martin O’Malley has 154.

“I feel like people support both Hillary and Bernie at Dartmouth in fairly sizable numbers,” Blatt said.

Clinton can “absolutely” beat Sanders in the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9, Blatt said.

Linn Duvall Harwell of New London, who watched Clinton speak and supports Clinton’s campaign, agreed that she thinks Clinton will beat Sanders, but said she should work with him thereafter.

“She should hire him back in,” Duvall Harwell said. “He has to be given some responsibility over and above senator.”

Currently, Clinton is trailing Sanders by 1.3 percentage points in New Hampshire in the RealClearPolitics polling average for primary voting intentions.

Dartmouth for Hillary canvases each weekend and conducts phone banking three to four times per week, Blatt said.

Blatt emphasized Clinton’s discussion of pay equity and equality for women, highlighting a story Clinton told about encouraging Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to rally women to participate economically.

“I loved her rhetoric in certain places,” Blatt said. “She talked about a ‘no ceilings economy’ where no one gets left behind, and that really resonates with me. One of my favorite things about being a Democrat is that I do think we’re the party of the big tent. We do bring in many different groups of people.”

Several New Hampshire voters interviewed said they were impressed by Clinton’s remarks and plan to support her.

“She’s right on point with everything,” former Dartmouth employee Mimi Colletti said. “I really believe in her, I believe in her ability. I believe she’s the best-qualified candidate we have in any aisle or in any party.”

Cathy Baker of North Sutton said she will support Clinton in the upcoming primary.

Duvall Harwell — who, with Baker and Colletti, created a group called “Hillary’s Helpers” to support Clinton — said it was time for a woman to become president.

“This is the time for women,” she said. “Women have been splintered because they have to do all the things women normally do, then to try to get out and struggle politically, so they’re splintered.”

Duvall Harwell — who is 92 years old — first voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt and said Clinton continues in his tradition.

“We have now traveled from what was then the industrial revolution — all built by coal — into the revolution with rare earth, which gives us everything we want that’s electronic,” she said.