EL CENTRO â€”Â Despite the scorching June heat, about 300 people stood outside the Barcelona Event Center to witnessÂ Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speak at her “Get Out The Vote” campaign rally on Thursday afternoon.
It is rare for aÂ presidential candidate to make an appearance in the Imperial Valley, with the previous candidates dating back toÂ Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. This shocking announcement drew an enormousÂ crowd of eager voters to line up in front of the Barcelona Event Center and the crowd even flowed well into the neighboring Home Depot parking lot starting at 1:30 p.m., though Clinton was not scheduled to speak until 3:30 p.m. The unforgiving sun beamed intense heat on guests waiting in line, with some demanding umbrellas and water to keep cool.
Shirley Jones, one in the crowd waiting outside, said she got in line starting at 1:40 p.m. but was later told by event staff thatÂ all guests allowed into the event were already in, and the rest of the crowd could stand outside or leave. A lot of debate surrounded why so few guests were let into the event center, while so many were left out. There were about 100 people inside.
“The overall goal was to bring awareness to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” said Frank G. Salazar, an organizer of the event. “The objective was to reach out to as many California voters, because for once, California is now in play. Many times, by the time the California primary election comes, it’s already done. In this instance, Hillary is running against Bernie Sanders. Many say that it’s done with, but at the end of the day, whether it’s done or not, she’s done her part in coming and simply showing up to the Imperial County. We never see a presidential candidate of this magnitude.”
Before Clinton was announced and ready to step on stage, chants of “Hillary! Hillary” filled the Barcelona Event Center. Once theÂ presidential candidate made her way to the stage, voters cheered loudly while waving campaign slogan signs that read “Fighting for us” in the air. A vast majority of attendees also had their cell phones raised in hopes of getting a picture of the highly-anticipated speaker.
Congressman Juan Vargas and his daughter Helena Vargas accompanied the candidate onto the stage. The congressman gave an overview of Clinton ‘s policies and introduced her to the crowd. Once given the stage,Â Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greeted the audience and expressed her appreciation for the Imperial Valley.
“I think it’s been a little too long before somebody running for president came here,” said Clinton. She then went on to state that she wanted to come to El Centro because it is a community of hard working people that do so much for the rest of the country in the agriculture business.
“I am running for president to represent every single person here in the United States of America,” stated Clinton. “Compared to what Donald Trump apparently thinks, I believe America is great and I want it to continue being great.”
“I know there’s work we have to do, and I’m running for president to be a good partner with you here in El Centro,” said Clinton. “I am going to work so that we get more good jobs with rising incomes for hard working people. We’re going to have more jobs and infrastructure, advanced manufacturing and some of what I see here in Imperial County, more jobs in clean renewable energy.”
“To me as an elected official, I’m very pleased to see a candidate for the president of the United States be here,” commented Michael Kelly, Imperial Country Supervisor District 3. “We are a big part of the state of California and we do have a lot of issues for border counties, so I think it’s important that they came here and talked to us.”
Throughout her 20-minute speech, Clinton listed her policies on multiple topics and issues. She announced she wants equal gender wages and substantial job wages for families of all sizes. She also acknowledged that we need more healthcare here in the Imperial Valley, and pledged to make it more affordable and available by lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs. “Before there was something called Obamacare, there was something called Hillarycare,” she commented.
“People are not trying to get into other countries like they’re trying to get into our country because we represent freedom and hope and opportunity,” commented Clinton. She ended her speech with thanking El Centro and the Imperial County for having her and encouraged voters to submit their ballots on Tuesday, June 7th.
“Just by being here, you see and feel the excitement in the air,” commented Salazar. “I think you feel the excitement for her candidacy. I think it was very, very different to what you normally see on TV, on CNN and MSNBC. What you saw today was a clear, concise candidate with a message. A message of hope, a message that hit home to many community-minded people. There was no negative messages, no negative overtones as you see on TV. Trump this, Trump that. Hillary this, Hillary that, you didn’t see that today. So at the end of the day, I think it was a great, healthy, worthwhile event.”
“We’re representing all home care workers here in Imperial County,” said Linda Zavala, a member of the United Domestic Workers Union who attended. “We have over 5,000 members that we’re representing. We’re really proud to be here because we are supporting Hillary Clinton. We were able to say ‘hi’ to her and she’s even signing some of our posters. It was really good. I heard that there were still people that weren’t able to come in and I heard that there were some fights outside, but everything was really, really good. There was a lot of people showing up.”[envira-gallery id=”78478″]