By Maria Curi | Mariaemail@example.com
DES MOINES— Ringing in the first day of voting in Iowa, Hillary Clinton was at the Cowles Commons rallying voters to stand behind her vision for America that includes tuition-free college, paid family leave, and affordable child care.
Hillary Clinton proposed zero tuition costs for in-state four-year public colleges for families with income up to $125,000 by 2021.
Families making up to $85,000 a year or less would receive the same benefits at the start of Clinton’s presidency. To pay for this, Clinton said corporations and the wealthy would have to “pay their fair share”.
According to a Des Moines Register database, the average student in Iowa graduates with $16,315 to $39,414 of debt, depending on the institution they attended.
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Former University of Iowa student Ruth Lapointe said Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan was what most inspired her to cast her vote.
“I’m in debt. My mom was upwards of $70,000 dollars in debt and it’s still following her as an adult. It’s hard to chip away at. Interest rates are high and I know plenty of people that can’t get ahead because of that,” Lapointe said.
Clinton also pushed for technical and vocational education, saying that while college is crucial, it should not be the only path.
“We need real apprenticeships. Not the kind where you’re told you’re fired but the kind where they tell you you’re hired,” she said, taking a jab at GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s reality T.V show, “The Apprentice”.
Continuing the theme of family economics, Clinton said her plan would mean that no family has to use more than 10 percent of their income to pay for quality childcare.
According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the average family in the United States spends $972 a month in center-based daycare.
Clinton also referenced her personal experience as a mother and grandmother as reasons why she supported paid maternity leave. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that the United States is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents.
“I will close this campaign the way I started my career decades ago, fighting for kids and families,” she said. “It is the cause of my life and the mission of my presidency.”
Although Clinton said she wanted the election to be “about something and not just against somebody,” she sprinkled several subtle jabs at her rival during her speech.
Anti-Hillary chants sounded in the background as Clinton disapproved of Donald Trump’s performance at the first debate on Tuesday, where Trump said it made him “smart” to avoid paying taxes.
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“I have no idea what he’s going to say the next time, but I will spend some time preparing for it,” Clinton said inciting laughter from the audience. “If not paying taxes makes him smart then what does that make the rest of us?”
According to the Pew Research Center, in the 2016 election partisans’ views of the opposing party are now more negative than at any point in nearly a quarter of a century.
“Among those highly engaged in politics – those who say they vote regularly and either volunteer for or donate to campaigns – fully 70 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans say they are afraid of the other party,” according to Pew.
Pew Research Center’s findings on political partisanship
Against this backdrop, voters in the battleground state have begun to cast their ballots today.
Real Clear Politics took the averages of Loras, Quinnipiac, Monmouth, and Emerson’s polls conducted between October 31 and September 22 showing Trump leading with 4.8 points in Iowa.
In light of this slim margin, Iowa Democrats including Democratic Party chair, Andy McGuire, candidate for Iowa’s third congressional district Jim Mower, and candidate for U.S. Senate, Patty Judge also made appearances at the rally.
“The election will be close,” Clinton said, “but we can win Iowa and were going to win on Nov 8.”
Follow Maria Curi (@cristinacuri96) on Twitter for updates on the campaign trail in Iowa