Why Clinton suddenly decided to visit Vernon Hills

  • The candidate is introduced Thursday at the Hillary Clinton rally at the Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center in Vernon Hills.

    The candidate is introduced Thursday at the Hillary Clinton rally at the Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center in Vernon Hills. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • An overflow crowd of 1,300 packed two rooms Thursday at the Hillary Clinton rally at the Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center in Vernon Hills.

    An overflow crowd of 1,300 packed two rooms Thursday at the Hillary Clinton rally at the Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center in Vernon Hills. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Patrick Treegardener, 20, of Vernon Hills is a Bernie Sanders supporter and was carrying a sign reading "Hillary is the 1%" Thursday at the Hillary Clinton rally outside the Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center in Vernon Hills.

    Patrick Treegardener, 20, of Vernon Hills is a Bernie Sanders supporter and was carrying a sign reading "Hillary is the 1%" Thursday at the Hillary Clinton rally outside the Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center in Vernon Hills. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/11/2016 4:59 AM

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tried to rally her supporters Thursday night in Vernon Hills with a focus on job creation and the need to improve the country's infrastructure.

Clinton spoke about the need for job creation early in her speech to an estimated 800 in a gymnasium and another 500 in an overflow room. She said everyone deserves a good job and a chance for pay raises.

 

"What does that mean?" she said. "It means good jobs in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing. It means more small businesses getting started and growing. That's where most of our jobs come from. It means combating climate change with more clean renewable energy jobs."

Clinton's appearance at the Sullivan Community Center marked the arrival of the two Democratic candidates to pitch Illinois voters, with Bernie Sanders on tap for Friday at Argo Community High School in Summit. John Kasich led the way to Illinois for the Republican presidential competitors, and he'll be followed by Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on Friday.

Clinton said Thursday the country must become more competitive with improved bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

She also took a shot at Sanders' plan for free higher education tuition.

"I don't believe you should get free college if you can afford it, she said.

Despite the Park Ridge native's loss in Michigan, she has 762 pledged delegates and Sanders 549. There are another 10 delegates from recent primaries that must be allocated.

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Clinton's loss to Sanders in Michigan now means Illinois and other states are in play Tuesday, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

"Bernie Sanders won such a big victory in Michigan that he and his people, and the Clinton people, think that is a sign he can do well in the Midwest industrial states such as Illinois and Ohio," Yepsen said before Clinton's Vernon Hills rally.

However, some of Clinton's supporters at Thursday's rally did not view Sanders as a threat to their candidate.

Rosemary Gonzalez, 58, of North Aurora, a lifelong Democrat, said Sanders won't beat Clinton because he lacks substance.

"When you listen to the debates, she's the most organized, eloquent, and she actually provides details and meat to what she's doing," Gonzalez said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Donna Morrison, 57, of Mundelein also said Clinton doesn't need to worry about Sanders. She said Clinton has the experience to hit the ground running if she lands in the White House.

"At the end of the day, she's going to come out shining just fine," Morrison said.

Clinton supporter Jennifer Aguilar, 27, of Joliet had a different take on what the Michigan win meant to the Sanders campaign.

"I do have a little bit of fear, because I know a lot of people my age, my friends, and I'm basically alone in my Clinton corner. A lot of them support Bernie," Aguilar said.

Outside the Sullivan Community Center, Patrick Treegarden, 20, of Mundelein said she shifted his support from Clinton to Sanders after researching the candidates. He held a sign reading: "Hillary is the 1%!"

"I think she should be, not really afraid, but taking him seriously at this point," Treegarden said.

While Clinton campaign operatives did not specify why she appeared in Vernon Hills, Yepsen said the village likely was selected because "there are a lot of women in the suburbs" who might vote for her. He added the conventional wisdom about the suburbs being a Republican stronghold has changed.

Bonnie Samuel, 36, of Lisle said it made sense for Clinton to seek votes from middle-class professional women.

"With professional women living in the suburbs, they tend to be in the age range that favors her more than Bernie, (who) goes more toward college towns because the college kids tilt toward him by higher percentages," Samuel said.

For an indication of suburban voters in Michigan, Yepsen referred to a CNN exit poll. In a poll of 1,601 respondents, 50 percent of suburban voters said they supported Sanders with 47 percent for Clinton.

When superdelegates are factored in, Clinton leads Sanders 1,223 to 574. It takes 2,383 delegates to capture the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton is not the first high-profile Democrat to visit the Sullivan Community Center in Vernon Hills. In October 2014, Vice President Joe Biden appeared before an estimated 750 spectators as part of a rally for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and two other Democrats who were in that year's election.

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