NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Hillary Clinton stressed bipartisanship Wednesday in pitching expanded vocational education and apprenticeships for young people during a speech at a technical college here.
Clinton, who needs to win big margins among young voters, rolled out a proposal to offer a $1,500 tax credit per apprentice to businesses that hire them. She called the strategy “win, win, win for everybody” and promised to crack down on schools and business that sell young people short.
The unemployment rate in this state for 18- to 34-year-olds is 7.8% — more than two percentage points higher than the national rate — while the unemployment rate for African-American young adults is nearly double that. “The numbers are really really troubling,” Clinton said to a capacity crowd of 500 at Trident Technical College.
The proposal she laid out cribs from a bipartisan plan authored by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, among others.
In contrast to recent speeches blasting Republicans, Clinton touted her ability to work across the aisle and leaned into themes of bipartisanship and cooperation in this conservative Southern state. “I don’t care what party you’re from, bring the parties together and lets solve problems together,” she said to applause.
In Iowa on Sunday, Clinton slammed Republicans on economic and social issues, saying the party hoped Americans had “collective amnesia” about the mess they caused previously in the White House.
Former South Carolina Democratic Gov. Dick Riley, who served as secretary of education under Bill Clinton, turned out in a seersucker suit Wednesday to praise Clinton’s pragmatism. “That was all positive,” he said after her speech. “Not just hammering on people, negative stuff.”
“That’s the way she is. She gets into things, she wants to make them work out, and make progress,” Riley added. “I think she’ll do grand here.”
One Republican on hand for the event, South Carolina GOP Chairman Matt Moore, was not particularly interested reciprocating the positive feelings. Citing polls showing a majority of Americans don’t find Clinton trustworthy, Moore said, “that’s about the only bipartisan thing Hillary Clinton has going for her.”
Two volunteers with the GOP were asked to turn their “Stop Hillary” t-shirts inside-out upon entering the event, but were allowed to come in.
Republicans criticized Clinton as hypocritical for hiring unpaid interns and fellows for her presidential campaign while bemoaning youth unemployment.
Clinton lost South Carolina in a landslide to Barack Obama in 2008, but has so far in been dominating in the pools ahead of the state’s 2016 primary. South Carolina is one of the earliest states in the nominating process, giving it outsize importance. Most attendees who came to hear Clinton speak Wednesday afternoon seemed enthused by her candidacy and eager to have her spend more time in their state.
Supporter Marty Dellinger flew in from Charlotte, North Carolina, just to hear Clinton’s address. He’s a member of the flight attendant’s union and is disappointed Clinton hasn’t firmly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty. “I’d like to hear a little more on TPP. I think she should come out against it,” Dellinger said.
Still, even if Clinton ultimately opposed the treaty, Dellinger said she would still have his vote.