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Clinton talks jobs, manufacturing in Harrisburg stop Friday night

Crowds packed it in at Broad Street Market. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

Hillary Clinton promised job creation during her campaign stop in Harrisburg on Friday night, just as her Republican opponent did when visiting the city three months ago. That’s where the similarities end.

When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in April, the New York businessman said he would risk looking unpresidential by approaching companies planning to offshore American jobs, warning them that “every single (foreign-made) unit that crosses our very strong border” would be taxed at 35 percent.

Addressing crowds outside Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market, Democratic candidate Clinton suggested Trump doesn’t practice what he preaches.

“He doesn’t make a single thing in America,” Clinton said, taking aim at Trump’s clothing and other branded consumer products,  some of which — though not all — are made overseas.

Clinton also blasted Trump’s frequent mantra that he will return traditional manufacturing and industrial jobs back to the country — as in Scranton on Wednesday, where he talked about reviving the region’s coal industry, which died out more than a half century ago.

“Those days are over,” Clinton said. “We need to prepare people for the jobs that will be here.”

And those jobs, she added, include modern manufacturing positions that can be difficult to fill due to a lack of qualified candidates.

Jobs top agenda

Roger DuPuis

Fresh off her Democratic National Convention acceptance speech Thursday night and a Friday rally in Philadelphia, Clinton arrived in Harrisburg with her husband, President Bill Clinton, as well as running-mate Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton.

“Pennsylvania has been very good to our family, and as you know, Hillary has roots here,” Bill Clinton said in a very brief introduction for his wife, who took the stage outside the Broad Street Market shortly before 8:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton talked about first touring the state during her husband’s 1992 presidential campaign. She also referred to her father Hugh Rodham’s roots in Scranton, and his time as a football player for Penn State. She also recalled him to the audience as a small businessman.

On that note, Clinton said two-thirds of new jobs in the country are expected to be generated by small businesses, saying she would look to “do more to help” such companies, which wrestle with “too much red tape.”

It’s an argument frequently made by small business owners and their advocates — and a charge not uncommonly leveled by Republicans against Democrats.

But Clinton was very much on the offensive against Trump’s economic policies, citing research by Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, who found that Clinton’s policies could create up to 10 million new jobs, while Trump’s could cost the country between 3 and 4 million jobs.

Clinton said her job-creation strategies would include investing in infrastructure improvement and clean energy technology, as well as in expanding the networks necessary to bring high-speed Internet service to more Americans, schoolchildren in particular.

She also reiterated her longstanding call to give women equal pay for equal work, as well as to “double-down” on education and training — a message advocates of American manufacturing, such as those in the reshoring movement, also have been making, calling for more apprenticeship and technical training programs.

Earlier Friday, Clinton made a private visit to the K’Nex toy company plant in Hatfield Township, Montgomery County. The candidate said the lesson she took away is one she hears a lot — namely that manufacturers often struggle to find skilled workers.

“Getting a four-year degree is not the only way get a job and earn a living,” Clinton said. 

About Clinton’s visit

Where: In the middle of North 3rd Street outside the Broad Street Market. Streets were closed off for the event. The podium was on a stage at the intersection with Verbeke Street.

Why there: Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, who owns the Midtown Scholar bookstore across the street, said Clinton’s team suggested the venue. Whether or not it was inspired by President Bill Clinton’s April visit to the bookstore, only the former commander-in-chief can say.

Preparations: Advance teams for the campaign spent a week scouting the area prior to the event, Papenfuse said. The market’s iconic outdoor sign, recently equipped with new bulbs, formed a bright backdrop as darkness fell. Traffic lights were temporarily removed to make way for stage lighting, with temporary fences and metal detectors installed for security and crowd control around the rally site.

Books and notebooks: Though closed for business due to the event, Papenfuse opened the bookstore to reporters covering the rally. That included a balcony overlooking North 3rd Street, where local and some national media gathered.

Audience: Initially expected to be 2,000; estimates not provided, but thousands appeared to still be waiting in line outside metal detectors when Clinton took the stage.

Opposition: There were some sporadic chants from protestors outside the perimeter, but no serious disruptions. Some were drowned out by Clinton supporters as the candidate continued to speak uninterrupted.

Timing: Gates opened to the public at 6:30 p.m. Gov. Wolf and state politicians spoke prior to Clinton’s arrival. Her tour buses pulled up at 8:22 p.m. After her husband and running mate had spoken, Clinton took the stage, shortly before 8:30 p.m., and spoke for about a half-hour. A private gathering with local officials followed in the Historic Harrisburg Association building, with the buses departing at about 9:45 p.m.

Weather: A sunny day gave way to a clear night, but sweltering temperatures remained stubbornly in the upper 80s even after dark.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at [email protected].

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