The small town of Dade City got a huge surprise on Nov. 1, when it received a visit from one of the biggest names in the country: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Several members of the Pasco County community did not realize that Clinton would be in the area until the morning of, but none were more surprised than the students and staff at Pasco Hernando State College, which served as the venue for the event.
“We were very surprised, especially since we were approached with the request to hold the event at our East Campus with very little notice,” said Lucy Miller, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Pasco Hernando State College.
After a moving introduction from Alicia Machado, Clinton took the stage to thunderous applause. With the election date drawing near and early voting having already begun, Clinton began the rally by addressing the importance of voting.
“Florida can decide who our next president is, which effects the nation and the world,” she stated. “I want to make sure that every voter in Florida spends the next seven days thinking about what’s at stake in this election.”
Over the course of an hour, Clinton touched on the multiple issues that differentiate her from her opponent, Donald Trump, such as his recently exposed vulgar treatment of women and his “dangerous statements about nuclear weapons,” as Clinton phrased it.
“Responsibility for our nuclear weapons is on the ballot,” Clinton stated, steering focus away from Trump and back to the subject of early voting.
Many students, those from Pasco Hernando and even a few from Saint Leo were especially interested in what she had to say about college education.
“I did like all of the little things she said about education,” said Lois Martinez, a psychology and English major at Saint Leo. “I like that she’s trying to make college more affordable for students. I liked that the most, personally.”
Clinton also explained that the fate of immigration also lies in the hands of the voters, suggesting that instead of ripping families apart and driving them from our country, we should be leading immigrants out of the shadows so that they can no longer be exploited.
“Being an immigrant, I chose the U.S. as the place to start my new life because I believe in freedom and the American values,” said Ammar Mohrat, a senior and computer science major from Saint Leo, who also attended the rally. “The U.S. is a great nation and it was built by
immigrants who wanted a new world. That’s why we should never close our hearts to helping others and anyone who wants to come here legally.”
Even though Clinton’s words went over well with most of the crowd, the event wasn’t without problems. Many supporters were forced to leave prematurely due to the overwhelming heat, while a few Trump supporters were forced to leave due to their behavior. There were several incidences of Trump fans interrupting Hillary’s speech to make their own opinions heard.
Before concluding, Clinton urged those who have already voted to assist others in the community to do the same. Even a small town like Dade City can make a huge difference when all its people work together.
“Making the calls, knocking on doors, it really matters,” Clinton said. “Our country is already great, but we can make it greater.”
According to Miller, the event was a monumental success; it benefitted Pasco Hernando State College in many ways.
“The event went smoothly, with an estimated 1,500 people in attendance. The media attention the College received on a local, national and international level exceeded any event ever held in the College’s nearly 45 year history,” said Miller.
Before her departure, Clinton took the time to get up close and personal with her audience. She worked her way through the large crowd, shaking hands, answering questions, and even taking a selfie or two with excited fans.
“I had the chance to take lots of pictures and videos of her,” Martinez stated. “I didn’t get the opportunity to shake her hand because I wasn’t that close. I was able to see her fully, and she looks as friendly as she does on television.”
More surprising than the fact that Hillary Clinton chose to visit Dade City is that her rally almost occurred on the Saint Leo campus. According to a statement provided by Mary McCoy, University Writer and Media Relations, the Clinton rally was not staged on campus due to scheduling conflicts with the events planned for the visiting Rabbi, Abraham Skorka.
“The visit had been planned for more than a year with guests from throughout the state attending,” Denny Moller, vice president of Advancement and Communications, explained in the statement, regarding Skorka’s visit. “Because of logistics, Saint Leo could not host the two events on the same day, and so the administration declined.”
Whether it be for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, students who have yet to vote are encouraged to do so before the polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8. After such a history making campaign, it will be interesting to see who our new leader of the free world will be and
how it will affect the lives of the American people. Many of those living in Dade City will remember this election for years to come, as well as the day that Hillary came to town.