Florida, it seems, is always in play as a must-win state in any presidential election. So, it wasn’t surprising during the last week of the 2016 election to see a frenzy of political activity.
Visits from Donald J. Trump, Hillary Clinton and a roster of surrogates from both campaigns took center stage all across the state, including Clinton’s Nov. 1 stop in Dade City.
Clinton drew several hundred to a get-out-the-vote rally on the lawn in front of the Charles E. Conger Library at the Pasco-Hernando State College East Campus.
Trump did not visit Pasco County during his run for the nation’s top job.
Clinton was joined in Dade City by former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who has accused Trump of demeaning her as a woman and a Latina.
“I could not be prouder to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton,” said Machado, a former Miss Universe, who accused Trump of ridiculing her for gaining weight and calling her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Eating Machine.”
Clinton used Machado’s story to hammer Trump as a misogynist whose anti-women comments made him unfit to be president.
But, not everyone at the event was pro-Clinton.
Several yards away about 30 protesters stood behind barricades while waving Trump/Pence signs and sometimes shouting “Lock her up.”
Chants of “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary” rose in response.
Clinton’s biggest cheer came when she pledged to make college tuition-free at state colleges for families making less than $125,000 a year.
The possibility that Clinton could make history by becoming the first female president also heartened supporters.
“It’s a part of history, no matter what color, creed or race you are,” said Dade City resident Debra Greer.
Oliver Hindahl, 14, sported a T-shirt emblazoned with “Madame President: Get used to it.”
He didn’t hear Clinton say anything new in Dade City, but he said, “It was very impressive.”
But, having a woman for president?
“I don’t think it will be all that different,” he said.
To which his mother, Virginia Thom, replied. “I think there’s a generation gap there.”
Tampa resident Chuck Bonham missed a rally Clinton held a week earlier at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. He couldn’t pass up a second chance.
“She has plenty of experience. She understands government and represented people in the (U.S.) Senate,” said Bonham, who wore a blue ball cap with the message “I (heart) Jesus.”
San Antonio resident Kathy Leitner, 74, came to the rally with her granddaughter, 17-year-old Nicole Payne.
“Hillary Clinton represents my story,” Leitner said. “I remember when girls did not play sports in school. Girls did not take certain classes, like shop.”
Published November 9, 2016