Hillary Clinton, campaigning in Oakland three days ahead of the start of mail voting in California, on Friday railed against Republican Donald Trump and re-issued her criticism of Bernie Sanders’ proposal to make tuition free at public colleges and universities.
In a single nod to the primary challenger she has yet to shake, Clinton called Sanders’ tuition plan unworkable and overly generous to wealthy Americans.
“My esteemed opponent, Senator Sanders, has a plan for what he calls ‘free college,’” Clinton told hundreds of supporters at a school gymnasium. “But you know, my late father said, ‘Anytime someone tells you it’s free, read the fine print.’”
The Democratic presidential frontrunner, who has proposed an alternative “debt-free” college plan, said Sanders’ proposal would include funding college for billionaires.
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“I don’t want to be paying for Donald Trump to send his kids and grand-kids to college,” Clinton said. “I want to be paying to send your kids and grand-kids to college.”
Clinton’s remarks came as Sanders prepared to rally supporters in Sacramento and Stockton on Monday and Tuesday. Absentee voting in California opens Monday ahead of the state’s June 7 primary.
Despite Clinton’s nearly insurmountable lead in the Democratic nominating contest, Sanders has vowed to continue on through the California primary. The Vermont senator has said he can still beat Clinton, while suggesting he will also carry a more progressive message to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.
Following his upset victory on Tuesday in Indiana, Sanders said “we think we have a pretty good chance” to win in California.
I don’t want to be paying for Donald Trump to send his kids and grand-kids to college.
Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate
Sanders faces an uphill climb in the state. Not only does he lag behind Clinton in recent polls, his disadvantage here is a quarter century in the making. Clinton has been mining California for political donations and support since her husband, Bill Clinton, ran for president in 1992, his victory that year ending a string of six straight elections in which Republican presidential candidates carried the state.
Clinton has largely turned her attention to a general election campaign against Trump, who became the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee after Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich dropped out of the race this week.
Clinton on Friday assailed the New York businessman’s positions on immigration, abortions rights, nuclear weapons and labor.
“He basically said wages are too high in America,” Clinton said. “And I’ve got to tell you, I ask myself all the time, ‘Who is he talking to? I have now talked with thousands of people over the last year, and I know wages need to go up. And then of course he doesn’t think much of equal pay for women, because, of course, he doesn’t think much of women, it turns out.”
Trump said last year that American wages are too high, though he told CNN on Wednesday that he is “open” to raising the minimum wage.
Appearing in a liberal border state, Clinton drew cheers when she reiterated her pledge to push for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, saying Trump had “doubled down” on his plan to deport millions of people living in the country illegally.
“He’s even now talking about what he calls a ‘deportation force,’” Clinton said. “Can you imagine the police and military action inside our borders, knocking on doors, hauling people out of their beds and their workplaces?”
She said, “That is the picture he is painting, and he needs to be repudiated.”
While focusing heavily on Trump, Clinton remained mindful of Sanders’ primary challenge, telling supporters at a campaign field office in Oakland she still has “some work to do” in California.
For Clinton, faltering in the nation’s most populous state could scar her candidacy heading into the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.
But Clinton has enjoyed relatively high public approval ratings in California since she was first lady, and she carried the state over Barack Obama in the presidential primary in 2008.
Lining up hours ahead of her event in Oakland, many longtime supporters still wore buttons and stickers from her campaign that year.
“She’s consistently supported rights of women,” said Celeste Marx, a retired pharmacist from Berkeley. “It’s more than time we had a woman president.”
That is the picture he is painting, and he needs to be repudiated.
Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate
Marx, 60, said, “It’s time for Bernie to go home.”
“Solidarity,” she said. “We have more important things to address, which is the candidate from the other team.”
Clinton’s public appearance came amid a series of fundraisers in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. Clinton has pulled more than $30 million from California donors. Sanders has raised about $14 million here.
Before Clinton’s event in Oakland, a protester across the street complained about Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and Senate vote to authorize the Iraq war in 2002, among other policies.
Joel Tena, a 43-year-old from Oakland who plans to vote for Sanders, held a yellow sign: “Oakland Democrats say: #NeverHillary!”
Inside the gymnasium, a woman standing on a platform behind Clinton ripped up a Clinton campaign sign as the candidate spoke.