WINTERVILLE, N.C. — Seeking to boost black voter turnout in a key state, Hillary Clinton on Thursday rattled off a list of discrimination complaints against Republican Donald Trump, noting he was endorsed by a Ku Klux Klan publication and reminding voters that he called for the execution of the wrongly accused “Central Park 5” and refused to apologize even after they were exonerated.
“Do we want this man appointing judges?” Clinton said to a crowd that responded with a long, throaty “No!”
“Do we want this man running the (U.S.) Justice Department,” Clinton asked. “No!” her supporters replied.
Clinton has raised the discrimination issue before in regards to her Republican opponent. But she put it more front in center in a state considered a linchpin in her path to winning the presidency — and a state where reports say early voting among blacks is down from 2012. Clinton sounded similar themes a day earlier in Nevada and Arizona while urging Latinos to vote.
At the rallies, voters seemed to respond, especially here at Pitt Community College.
“We all knew Donald Trump. He’s a celebrity. But just listening to Donald Trump, I can’t get on board,” said Victor Irona, 23, a business student at nearby East Carolina University. “I’m not the biggest Hillary fan, don’t get me wrong. But, like she said, I’d rather live in a Hillary land than a Donald Trump land.”
Irona was one those who booed loudly when Clinton brought up the KKK and the Central Park 5. He said he’s bothered by Trump’s talk of supporting “stop and frisk” policies.
“Take if from someone who looks like me,” said Irona, who is black. He also cited Trump’s vow to “build a wall” along the Mexican border and ban or strongly limit Muslim immigrants, and concluded: “It’s just everything.”
U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-N.C.) warmed up the crowd by noting its significance in the electoral math for each candidate.
“You didn’t know how important you were,” Norton told the crowd. Citing news stories, Norton told them North Carolina might be the most important state for the outcome of Tuesday’s election. She urged the crowd to either cast an “early vote” by Saturday or be sure to go to the polls next week.
Clinton was introduced by Mae Wiggins, a former Queens resident who has said Trump Management denied her an apartment in 1963 because she’s black.
“Trump turned me away because of the color of my skin. And many others,” Wiggins said. “I still can’t share this experience with you without the pain . . . I urge you to support and vote for Hillary Clinton.”
(Trump was 17 at the time; the real-estate company was run by his father. He has denied any wrongdoing and noted the federal discrimination lawsuit was settled without an admission of guilt.)
Both candidates hit North Carolina Thursday, providing for their closest physical proximity since the debates.
The campaign planes for Clinton and Trump landed with within minutes of one another at Raleigh-Durham International Airport early Thursday night, spurring a storm of photographs on Twitter about the close encounter.
Clinton and Pharrell made a previously unannounced stop at North Carolina Central University, a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to encourage voter turnout.
On Friday, Jay Z will perform at a Clinton rally in Cleveland. In the last few weeks, Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry and Jon Bon Jovi also have headlined Clinton events.
The celebrity-driven events are part of another cog in the Democrats’ election plan: Win the support of young voters, “millenials,” — and make sure they actually go out and vote.
President Barack Obama also has stepped up his efforts to keep the White House in Democratic hands. On Monday, he and First Lady Michelle Obama will join Clinton in what aides are calling a huge rally in Philadelphia — accentuating the importance of carrying Pennsylvania.