Politics & Government

Warren’s message at Rock Hill campaign event: ‘I’m running because I’m grateful’

Zain Hannosh, 7, put his hands to his mouth and shouted Saturday, his face sweaty. He bounced on his tiptoes, trying to see 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren outside Clinton College as she detailed how money collected from a so-called “wealth tax” could benefit the country.

“We can provide child care for every baby in this country,” the Massachusetts senator said.

Zain, who lives in Charlotte, cheered. He had come with his mom to Rock Hill for the town hall meeting.

“Universal pre-K for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old in America,” Warren said.

Zain clapped. He still stood on his tiptoes.

“And raise the wages of every preschool teacher and childcare worker in America,” Warren said.

Zain cheered louder.

As Warren continued, each time the crowd of about 600 cheered, Zain put his hands up to his mouth and shouted: “Woo!”

Warren, who’s been shown as the front runner in some recent polls, had come to the historically African American college to campaign. Her message was clear — fight corruption — as she spoke on a range of topics before a crowd of a wide range of ages and races.

‘Education is not free’

Uchechi Kalu, a teacher at the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, asked Warren, a former teacher and Harvard professor, how she would transform the public school education system.

“How about we start with putting a former public school teacher in the White House?” Warren answered.

The crowd erupted with cheers and claps.

Warren said that, as part of her education plan, she would make a public school teacher secretary of education.

“Understand this — education is not free,” Warren said. “Education is something we need to put real resources in. You want to build an America of our best values? You want to build an America that leads in this world? Then invest in every one of our babies.”

She said she wants to give $50 billion in funding to historically black colleges such as Clinton College. She would also work to cancel student loan debt.

‘Pay and pay and pay’

“Every time I come down here, I’ve talked to folks who don’t have health care, to folks who got cut out,” Warren said. “Because the state has said, ‘Nope, we’re not going to do the Affordable Care Act.’ Because the state has cut Medicaid.”

A man in the crowd, holding an “SC for Warren sign,” pointed to himself.

Warren said that with her Medicare for All plan, states would no longer decide who is covered with health care. She said it would take about four years to transition for everyone to adopt Medicare for All.

“Right now in America, we’ve got hard-working families who just keep reaching in their pocket and pay and pay and pay,” she said. “It is not sustainable. We need health care as a basic human right.”

‘Biggest anti-corruption plan’

“Think about it this way: Whatever issue brought you here today, whether it’s gun violence, whether it’s health care, prescription drugs, criminal justice reform, if there is a decision to be made in Washington, it’s been enforced by money,” Warren said.

Warren said that as part of her plan to “attack corruption head on,” she wants to end lobbying and take Wall Street’s influence out of Washington. She also said that in order to give more power to workers, she wants to make it easier to join unions.

“Good news — this is the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate,” she said. “Here’s the bad news. We need the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate.”

The crowd cheered.

“I never in a million years thought I’d run for any political office,” Warren said. “But I’m running because I’m grateful. My daddy, he ended up as a janitor. But his baby daughter got the opportunity.”

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Cailyn Derickson is a city government and politics reporter for The Herald, covering York, Chester and Lancaster counties. Cailyn graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has previously worked at The Pilot and The News and Observer.