Hillary Clinton Visits Phoenix Ahead Of Tuesday Vote

Published: Monday, March 21, 2016 - 5:37pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 12:14pm

(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
Hillary Clinton supporters wait for the candidate to arrive at Carl Hayden Community HIgh School in Phoenix on March 21.

A diverse crowd packed the gymnasium at Phoenix's Carl T. Hayden Community High School on Monday afternoon to hear Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speak a day ahead of Arizona's presidential primary election.

Clinton told the crowd the stakes in this election keep getting higher and higher.

Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are vying for the Latino vote in Arizona. On Monday night, a banner that said “Latinos for Hillary” hung on the bleachers. Clinton was introduced by Gila River Tribe Governor Stephen Roe Lewis as well as notable Latino leaders, including civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

In Perez's previous post at the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division, he was in charge of the team that challenged Arizona immigration enforcement law SB 1070 up to the U.S. Supreme Court and sued Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for discriminating against Latinos.

“I’m proud of the fact that we sued Sheriff Arpaio and won,” Perez said as the audience cheered. He went on to tell the crowd in both Spanish and English that Clinton was a “dreamer, a fighter and a doer.”

A federal judge in another lawsuit ruled Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had discriminated against Latino drivers. The Justice Department settled its own suit and has joined the other case to oversee reforms at the sheriff’s office.

Arpaio, a polarizing figure in Arizona for his hard-line stance on immigration, has become a major campaign fixture on both sides of the primary race in Arizona.

Arpaio has endorsed Donald Trump and hosted the candidate in his town of Fountain Hills over the weekend, where there was a large sheriff's office security presence. Earlier this month, Sanders’ wife visited Arpaio’s outdoor jail, Tent City, to denounce the sheriff’s policies. When Arpaio surprised her at the jail, they had an exchange that was captured on video and later circulated widely.

Clinton herself touched on the controversial sheriff in her remarks.

“When I see people like Sheriff Arpaio and others who are treating fellow human beings with such disrespect such contempt it just makes my heart sink,” Clinton said. “We are better than that.”

Clinton got her biggest cheers of the night when she said she would fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabbrielle Giffords, along with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, also addressed the crowd as the audience cheered, “Gabbie!, Gabbie!”

Giffords, who has become an activist against gun violence since she was the victim of a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, said she was supporting Clinton because she had confidence she would stand up to the gun lobby.

“Speaking is difficult for me, but come January I want to say these two words, ‘Madame President.’”

In her 20-minute remarks, Clinton spoke about student loan debt, health care and said states should stop building prisons and invest in higher education again.

Carl T. Hayden High School, where the rally was held, has a predominantly Latino student body. The school’s robotics program was made famous when four Latino immigrant students on the team managed to win a robotics competition against M.I.T. The story was captured in both a book and a feature film.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct a transcription error in Hillary Clinton's quote. 

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