Clinton ‘absolutely positively spot-on,’ Dems say

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit — Like many of the nearly 150 people who gathered at a union club on the city’s west side to watch the televised debate between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Kathleen Bryant-Dickerson found herself alternating between cheering and jeering.

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Claps, loud cheers and even booing filled the spot as the candidates traded jabs while laying out their positions on issues such as taxes, job creation and foreign affairs.

The audience constantly shouted its approval as Clinton at times countered Trump’s attacks and interjections with reminders of his controversial comments, business interests and questions about the magnate’s judgment.

“I think it allowed him to hang himself,” Bryant-Dickerson said.

Many praised Clinton as a stronger candidate than Trump, who earned the most jeers and rebukes from the crowd.

When Trump suggested he had a “better temperament” than Clinton, the audience roared with cries of “Oh my God!” and “Really?”

“After a while, he starts to believe his lies,” said Stevetta Johnson, a Detroiter and state worker, of Trump.

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Wanda Bradley, a retiree from Detroit, beamed when Clinton brought up Trump’s previous disparaging remarks on women and minorities — including calling a beauty contestant “Miss Piggy.”

“I liked her strength. She was just a strong force,” she said, adding that Trump spoke “like he was talking to someone at the corner store, whereas she talked presidentially.”

The difference wasn’t lost on Rodney Patrick, who leads the Highland Park City Council.

“This is not a game,” he said after the debate. “You have to be well-versed. You have to have solutions. It’s not who deserves what. It’s preparedness.”

Wayne County Commissioner Alisha Bell welcomed hearing Clinton’s plans for job growth. “Her plans will move the country forward,” she said.

The gathering at the Trade Union Leadership Council on the city’s west side was among several official debate watch parties Clinton’s campaign Hillary for Michigan hosted across the state, including Pontiac, Grand Rapids, Flint, East Lansing, Traverse City and Marquette.

Trump and Clinton have spent months tangling from afar and are divided on virtually every major issue facing the country. They also faced questions about domestic terrorism and police shootings.

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Clinton has called for expanding Obama’s executive orders if Congress fails to pass legislation to overhaul the U.S. immigration system and sought broader gun control measures. Overseas, she has called for a no-fly zone in Syria but vowed to keep the military out of a large-scale ground war to defeat the Islamic State group.

Her call to have Muslims help combat extremism also sparked applause — as did an assertion that Trump “had no plan” when it came to defeating the Islamic State Group.

“It’s out of (Trump’s) realm of knowledge,” said Bernice Smith, an 84-year-old activist who has lived in Detroit for more than 40 years.

When the former first lady and secretary of state said she mentioned equal pay for women as among the major moves to boost the national economy, Bryant-Dickerson raised her hands to the ceiling.

“Often women are held to a different standard,” the Southfield resident said.

Andre Walk, a community activist who attended the debate watching party, was happy to hear Clinton address gun control, policing and race relations.

“She is absolutely positively spot-on,” he said. “The issues she is addressing right now are the issues we’re concerned about.”

Seated near the big-screen TV, Smith said the debate helps give “a better feel for what the candidates are thinking,” she said.

“If we don’t vote the right way, then we’re lost, in my estimation,” said Smith.

Associated Press contributed.