The early voting event at Broughton High School also included remarks from U.S. Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield and former Gov. Jim Hunt in support of Hagan.
The line to the event, about 1,300 people in all, buzzed with anticipation, wrapping along multiple streets. The diverse audience was united in boos and even an audible sizzling noise when Hunt criticized Republican Thom Tillis’s support of pay raises for corporate leaders.
The speeches touched on issues such as public education, equal pay and restrictions on voting rights.
Clinton said he doesn’t always feel fit for the negativity of today’s political world, especially in campaigning.
“I’m not mad at anybody,” he said, joking about the persistent attack ads during the race between Hagan and Tillis.
Clinton said electing Tillis would mean a return to harmful, trickle-down economic policies. He said that as a boy, he always considered North Carolina a state of the future, and this reputation is being challenged.
“You’re being invited to tell yourselves whether you want to choose to be a state of the future or whether you choose to go back to trickle-down (economics),” Clinton said. “This is not rocket science; it’s obvious what works.”
Clinton said Tillis has inaccurately equated Hagan’s policies to President Barack Obama’s agenda. He also said he’s worried about electing a candidate like Tillis because he repeatedly supported restrictions of voting rights.
Clinton especially emphasized the necessity of the youth vote.
“The people with more tomorrows than yesterdays have to show up (at the polls),” he said.
Hunt, who spoke before Clinton, said the Hagan and Tillis contest will be determined by a handful of votes.
“Now folks, this could be a very tight election,” Hunt said. “Don’t you think we’ve got it made.”
Hunt, known as the “education governor” during his 16 years in office, said voters should value Hagan’s experience as chairwoman of the state Senate Appropriations Committee, which raised teacher pay to the national average.
Hagan rallied the crowd by saying that she did not raise her daughters to make 82 cents on the dollar, an argument she said Tillis has called a “campaign gimmick.”
Ryan Haar, a junior at Broughton, said she attended the rally for the chance to hear Clinton speak, noting that Broughton has a history of hosting notable political speakers.
Carolyn Tyson, a Raleigh resident, said the rally inspired her to make an extra effort at the end of election season and to encourage her neighbors to vote.
The sentiment for the support of college affordability was reflected in the crowd — Jacqualine McCullough, a resident of Raleigh, said it’s important for all students to be able to afford college.
“We need to elect Kay Hagan because she is our voice,” she said.
Debra Gould, a special education teacher at Broughton High School, said she was also glad events such as Hagan’s rally divert attention from negative campaigning. She said it was good to see so many in attendance at a political event.
“It’s not just about words,” said Esther Crabbendam, a university student studying with BKB Academie in the Netherlands who traveled to North Carolina to learn about this election. “Everyone here is thinking about what the vote will mean for their lives.”