Hillary Clinton Talks Jobs, Tuition In First Pittsburgh Stump

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told Pittsburghers on Wednesday she wants to create clean energy jobs, repair aging infrastructure and give students better options for financing their educations.

More than 2,000 packed the Skibo Gymnasium at Carnegie Mellon University after hours waiting in the chilly afternoon sun. 

“Imagine that we once again become the manufacturing engine of the world," Clinton said, citing CMU's Robotics Institute. "That we are building what the world needs, what is creating our future."

Americans should have a livable minimum wage and support equal pay for women, Clinton said, touting her counterterrorism efforts while serving as Secretary of State. That record of service has long-been Clinton's selling point to scores of veteran voters.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (L) and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (R) introduce Hillary Clinton at Carnegie Mellon University.
Credit Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

“I hope she can convince, you know, a lot of these young kids what reality is,” said Marlene Ament, 72, who drove in from Apollo. 

This will be CMU freshman Seth Henry's first year to vote, but not his first crack at the political process. Henry said he helped the Obama campaign in 2008 – when he was 10 years old – by going door-to-door with his grandfather.

“This atmosphere feels pretty similar,” he said. "I might pick Hillary, but we’ll have to see. I still have to research a little more.”

Organizers said another 1,400 people were cut off at the door. Clinton spoke to them briefly before going inside, they said. 

Clinton faces criticism from Pennsylvania Republican Party leaders who said Wednesday state workers have no friend in Clinton, citing previous speeches against coal. 

"And I said let’s have half a billion solar panels by the end of my first term, and enough clean energy to power every home by the end of my second term," Clinton told the crowd. "These are jobs that have to be done right here in Pennsylvania and across the United States."

The Illinois native opened her first Pittsburgh campaign office last month in East Liberty. She's held multiple fundraisers in the city since 2015.

Her visit comes just a week after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders drew more than 8,000 to his stump at the David Lawrence Convention Center on Thursday. His speech focused on blue-collar workers and how big-dollar deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement have hurt U.S. manufacturing jobs. 

Historically, Clinton has done well in Pennsylvania. She beat then-candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 state primary by strong margins. 

Recent figures by Harper Polling have Clinton beating Sanders by 22 points, down from a more secure 30-point lead in March. Quinnipiac University projects a much tighter race with Clinton only 6 points up.