Clinton says she'll fight for equal pay, debt-free college

Former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton campaigned in Syracuse on Friday as she works to hold off Democratic presidential primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Looking toward the general election, Clinton railed against Republicans in the race, claiming they were "going after every right we've got ... civil rights, women's rights, workers' rights and the rights of people with disabilities."

SYRACUSE — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigned in Syracuse on Friday as the state edges closer to its primary on April 19.

Implying the policies of her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT, are too good to be true and describing the remaining trio of GOP candidates as divisive and unprepared, the former Secretary of State stumped for 30 minutes at the Regional Market's F Shed.

Clinton highlighted her experience and agenda on a host of progressive issues including equal pay for women and making college tuition debt-free.

"All these other folks running for president — and you have noticed they're men, right — they spend so much time telling you what they're against," Clinton said. "Okay, fine ... what are you for? Who are you for? What are you going to do?"

Clinton promised to defend the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality, and she pledged not only to provide greater incentives for American job creators but also to penalize with "hefty exit taxes" businesses that pack up and go to Mexico or overseas.

"I think this is one of the most consequential presidential elections we've had in a long time," said Clinton, the former New York senator. "I know we can do this. I know we can create more jobs, because we've done it. I know we can raise incomes, because we've done it."

Clinton cast herself as the only candidate on either side of the aisle who's pledged not to hike taxes on the middle class. She said she'd fight to make the economy " fairer" for everyone, claiming she'd go after the "wealthy and super rich" while her Republican counterparts were "peddling the same snake oil."

"But now they go further," she said. "It's like trickle-down economics on steroids. We should be raising taxes on the wealthy."

Clinton used Friday's visit not only to galvanize her base of support in the region but to pitch her $10 billion plan to boost American manufacturing. Before speaking at the rally, she held an hour-long roundtable with upstate business leaders.

Requiring equal pay for women and reinvesting in infrastructure, scientific research and manufacturing will boost the American economy, said Clinton, who touted heavy increases in median family incomes by the end of her husband Bill Clinton's presidency.

"Our economy is better when we have a Democrat in the White House," she argued, adding "it's important that the Democrat we have in the White House can actually get things done."

In one line, she slammed billionaire Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Sanders' focus on a free tuition for all at public universities.

"I'm not spending one penny to give a free education to any of Donald Trump's kids or grandchildren," said Clinton, arguing in favor of debt-free tuition and arguing Sanders' plan depends too greatly on governors funneling cash into schools at a time when Republican state leaders are slashing public education budgets.

Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn and held a rally in the Bronx Thursday, has built momentum after a series of caucus wins in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington.

Many polls show him leading in next week's Wisconsin primary as well.

Clinton has consistently led polls in New York, and has 1,243 overall delegates to Sanders' 980, according to the Associated Press. Those figures include 469 superdelegates for Clinton — unpledged Democratic Party leaders who've said they'd back Clinton but could switch if Sanders picks up more victories.

The hall on Friday was packed with a diverse and heavily orange-clad crowd in the hundreds, and while Sanders has drawn millions of millennials turned off by establishment politics and what Sanders considers an economy stacked against the poor, there was no shortage of younger support for Clinton on Friday — particularly from young women.

After comments from Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Clinton was introduced by Mya Martin, a 17-year-old senior at Corcoran High School who said Clinton had consistently given "a voice to women and girls across the state."

In the wake of Trump's remarks this week that there "has to be" some form of punishment for women who have abortions — a notion attacked by pro-lifers and pro-choice voters alike and later retracted by the Trump team — the crowd was particularly revved up by any mention of women's rights.

Syracuse resident Nina Williams, 26, came to the event with her 2-year-old son Wesley, whom she toted along in the same wagon her parents carried her in when they attended events for Clinton's senatorial campaign 17 years ago.

"Wesley is a third-generation Hillary Clinton supporter," said Williams, whose father Steve is one of three Democrats vying for a chance to run against Rep. John Katko, R-Syracuse. "I love her enthusiasm and consistent dedication to families and to children. No other candidate has my back as a single mom."

The Sanders campaign has not yet scheduled a rally in the region, but has established an office in Syracuse and set up a number of volunteer events in the area.

Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, have events lined up the next few days in Wisconsin.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has scheduled town hall meetings on Monday in Huntington and at Hofstra University.

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