Exactly one week before Election Day, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke to supporters in Sanford about education, climate change and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The former Secretary of State held three early vote rallies throughout Florida on Tuesday. She started in Dade City, then made her way to the Sanford Civic Center and ended the night in Fort Lauderdale.
While the rally’s purpose was to encourage Sanford residents to vote early, Clinton did take the opportunity to talk about her opponent.
“Whenever I talk about [equal pay],” Clinton said. “[Trump] accuses me of playing the woman card; I say let’s play the woman card and deal me in.”
Local Sanford residents either joined the line or watched from their porches as the rally grew in size and noise. One member of the Secret Service, who declined to give his name, estimated that more than 1,000 people were inside the civic center, and just about the same amount watched from the glass windows outside.
Two women protested on the side of the line with a message focused on Clinton’s pro-choice stance on abortion. Michele Herzog, a resident of the Central Florida area, said she has been protesting since 1988, and had been to previous Clinton rallies in Orlando and Kissimmee.
“Hillary Clinton believes that unborn children have no constitutional right,” Herzog said. “Our main focus is about the slaughter of the innocent.”
While some rally-goers scoffed at the protesters, UCF theater professor Jim Brown was one of the few who seemed happy to engage in conversation with them.
“I respect them,” Brown said. “I appreciate their passion, but these people here are protesting against abortion, and if they don’t want abortion, don’t have one.”
Although some focused on the protest, Caleigh Gilfillan, an interdisciplinary studies senior at UCF, said she was looking forward to Clinton discussing issues she didn’t speak about during the debates.
“It would be nice if she brought up climate change because they didn’t bring that up in the debates, but I’m here for whatever she has to say,” Gilfillan, 21, said.
When Clinton took to the stage just after 7 p.m., she opened her speech by acknowledging the nearly 1,000 people outside that didn’t make it in, then moved on to the topic of early voting.
“Twenty-six million people in America have already voted — more than 4 million right here in Florida. If we can keep this up, if we vote, we win,” Clinton said.
With a nod to those who have always supported her career such as older women Democrats, Clinton made it point to call out those still on the fence.
“I want to say a word to the people who are still making up their minds: I want to be president for everybody — Democrats, Republicans — everybody,” Clinton said.
Clinton did not touch on the latest news of the FBI reopening her emails, which was sparked by an investigation into a sexting scandal involving former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. According to previous reports by NPR, the emails found on Weiner’s computer suggest that they were sent to or from Clinton’s private server.
Clinton did speak about eliminating college tuition, paying attention to climate change, stopping gun violence and other issues such as the Pulse shooting.
“I know what happened not far from here at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. I was in New York City on 9/11 as one of the two senators,” Clinton said.
An interview from CNN and an excerpt from on page 172 of Clinton’s book “Hard Choices” say Clinton was in Washington on the day the towers, Pentagon and the World Trade Center were hit. However, Clinton was in New York City the day after 9/11.
She briefly spoke on climate change, emphasizing that Florida needs to focus more on the issue. She then changed topics, explaining in-depth that she would like to eliminate tuition for families who earn less than $125,000 annually.
“I want to be a strong advocate for affordable education,” Clinton said. “Pay what you can, but you don’t have to go into debt.”
Clinton soon shifted the conversation to gun violence and specifically mentioned Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in 2012.
“I can’t come to Sanford without talking about Trayvon Martin,” Clinton said. “I had the great honor of getting to know his mother and many of those mothers who lost their children to gun violence.”
Other speakers throughout the evening included Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson; Florida Democratic senatorial nominee Patrick Murphy; U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, John Lewis; and candidate for congressional district 7 in Florida, Stephanie Murphy.
Patrick Murphy, who received praise from President Barack Obama during the Clinton rally at the CFE Arena Friday night, focused the majority of his speech on his competition, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
“Rubio said he will stick up to Trump as president, but he can’t even stick up to him as a candidate,” Murphy said. “Rubio can stay low with Donald Trump, but I’m with her.”
With the crowd shouting “No show, Rubio,” Murphy closed his speech by drilling down to the rally’s main focal point: early voting.
“Here is what we need to do: We need to vote,” Murphy said. “The polls are open now in Sanford. Get out there. Make sure you vote.”
For some Sanford residents, it meant a lot to see Clinton and others at the civic center.
Sanford local and UCF sophomore economics student Maaraya Mahmood said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Clinton in person. Mahmood, 18, said she could not miss seeing Clinton in her hometown of Sanford.
The end of Clinton’s speech was aimed at Trump and his views.
“At the end of the day Donald Trump is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with our economy,” Clinton said. “I think you deserve a president who stands up for you.”
After Clinton’s closing remarks, Robie Richmond, a Clinton supporter and Sanford resident, was pleased with the points Clinton made.
“She really pointed out exactly what she wanted to do,” Richmond said. “She separated herself from Trump and she made it clear she is the real deal.”
As the election season comes to a close, Trump and Clinton campaigns are scheduled to rally in swing states Florida, North Carolina Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and Pennsylvania.