VOL. 131 | NO. 42 | Monday, February 29, 2016
Clinton Visits Churches, Trump Rallies In Millington
By Bill Dries
Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton made surprise appearances at two Memphis churches Sunday, Feb. 28, the day after Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump drew a crowd of 10,000 less than 12 hours earlier in Millington.
And U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee endorsed Republican contender Marco Rubio.
Clinton spoke at Greater Imani Church Cathedral of Faith and Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.
Clinton appealed for votes in Tuesday's Tennessee Democratic primary saying the matchup with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is important.
"But, most importantly, we need to raise your voices and your vote in a way that people in authority begin to understand that we are all in this together," the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady added at Greater Imani in Raleigh. "America's best years can still be ahead of us."
Clinton also continued to criticize state government leaders including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for not expanding Medicaid coverage in the state under the federal Affordable Care Act.
It's a call Clinton made last year during a campaign stop at LeMoyne-Owen College.
As her husband, former president Bill Clinton did earlier this month in Whitehaven, she also touted the nation's economic strength during her husband's two terms in the White House. And she pledged a return to that economic prosperity.
Clinton has also been criticized in recent weeks for criminal justice policies during her husband's administration that increased prison sentences for drug crimes and younger offenders.
Hillary Clinton's use of the term "super predators" in a 1990s video clip also resurfaced. She has since said she regrets using the term.
At both Memphis churches Sunday, she pledged to "reform the criminal justice system and make sure it protects people, not harasses and even kills people in the process of policing."
Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump told a crowd of 10,000 in a hangar at the Millington Regional Jetport Saturday that the Republican Party is different and larger because of his supporters.
“We’ve got a Republican party but a lot of outsiders are coming in because they like what I say. We’re going to get a lot of people coming in and we don’t care where they’re coming from. We have to win, right?” Trump said. “We’re going to get independents. We’re going to get Democrats. Remember the term Reagan Democrats? … If you don’t get them, you’re really not going to win, folks.”
Trump spoke Saturday, Feb. 27, to a crowd that filled more than half of a hangar with a capacity of about 18,000.
Many came more than 12 hours before the 6 p.m. start of the hour-long rally that began when Trump’s jet taxied just a few yards from the stage.
Traveling with Trump was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who earlier in the week endorsed Trump’s candidacy. That follows Christie’s exit from the Republican presidential pack.
Trump appealed for votes in advance of Tuesday’s Tennessee presidential primaries, one in a series of primaries and caucuses on the same day in the south and elsewhere in the country.
“I don’t want your money,” Trump said at the outset of his remark. “I just want your votes.”
In the 40-minute speech, Trump repeatedly attacked rival Republican contender and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, calling him “little Marco.” He also called Rubio and Republican contender and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas “liars” and “two crooked Senators.”
He called Rubio a “choke artist”
“He’s un electable and we are going to beat him badly in Florida,” Trump predicted, talking about Rubio’s reaction in an early television debate when Christie criticized Rubio.
“I never saw a human being sweat like this guy … he was pouring,” Trump said. “It was like he just got out of swimming pool with a suit on. … I thought he was going down.”
The rally was interrupted briefly when two protesters carrying a sign reading “Trump Making America Hate Again” had the sign taken from them by others in the crowd who tore it up.
Trump heard the crowd in that section of the audience begin chanting “Trump” over and over – what has come to be a practice at Trump rallies when protesters make their presence known.
“Get them out,” Trump said. “Don’t hurt them.”
Security at the entrance to the hangar was looking for such signs and had a pile of signs that didn’t make it into the hangar including “Gays For Trump.”
Before those attending the rally got to the checkpoint there was an informal midway of booths selling unofficial Trump buttons, t-shirts and doing a brisk business in other anti-Democratic party paraphernalia including “Hillary for Prison” buttons and shirts.
A food stand gave top billing to its “Trump Burgers.” It also offered Bernie Sanders Pork Nachos, Ted Cruz Canadian Bacon Burgers and Rubio Hot Dogs as well as Hillary Clinton Soft Drinks, adding “we scrubbed the cans.”
As the crowd left the rally, the vendors were selling at a discount. A row of Millington police officers stood between the exiting crowd and sign-carrying protesters. The slogans included “Amerikkka Loves Trump” and “Black and Brown Lives Matter.”
Trump’s jet landed at the jetport as Hillary Clinton was being declared the winner over rival Bernie Sanders by most media reports in the South Carolina Democratic primary.
Trump won the state’s Republican primary a week earlier – a victory that made some Republican party leaders more vocal in calling for a consensus party establishment contender to take down Trump. And many of them coalesced around Rubio including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
As the Millington crowd began filing into the hangar, the Rubio campaign released a statement from Haslam.
“It is time for Tennessee Republicans who do not want the party of Lincoln and Reagan taken over by Donald Trump to rally around Marco Rubio,” Haslam said. “It is clear Marco is the only candidates who can beat Trump.”
The Rubio campaign announced Sunday that U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has also endorsed Rubio. Alexander's endorsement focused on Clinton and made no reference to Trump or the internal primary skirmish among Republicans nationally.
"The stakes are high," Alexander said in the written statement. "If our nominee does not win, Hillary Clinton's justices will control the Supreme Court for 30 years and we'll be stuck with Obamacare forever."
Rubio is scheduled to campaign Monday in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Trump said Saturday that former Gov. Jeb Bush, who recently dropped out of the Republican presidential field will probably endorse Rubio as well. Trump took credit for Bush’s exit.
“They hate each other,” he said of Rubio and Bush despite Rubio being a political protégé of Bush.
Many of Trump’s policy points were on immigration.
He renewed his pledge to build a wall to stop illegal immigration from Mexico into the U.S. and make the Mexican government pay for it.
The plan drew a profane response this week from Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox.
Referring to Fox’s reaction, Trump said, “The wall just got 10 feet taller” with the crowd chanting the last part of the sentence that has become a frequent line in Trump speeches.