COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Hillary Clinton joined Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown at a campaign rally Thursday to pump up a crowd of college-aged voters — and she wasn’t shy about tying him to marriage equality in the state.
With days remaining before Election Day, the former secretary of state took to the stage at the Ritchie Coliseum at University of Maryland, College Park, to encourage the estimated 2,500 attendees — mostly college students — to head to the polls. The rally took place on the final day of early voting in Maryland.
“Unfortunately, it takes a lot to get our people to vote in the mid-terms,” Clinton said. “When you leave the rally, you should tell them that voting for Anthony Brown is voting for themselves.”
Speaking before Clinton joined him on stage, Brown said the upcoming election in Maryland presents an opportunity to build on the economic successes the state has already seen under his leadership as lieutenant governor with Gov. Martin O’Malley.
“This election is not about the past,” Brown added. “If you’re with me, this election is about the future. This election is about what’s next. This election is the opportunities that we create.”
As Clinton spoke, activists interrupted her a handful of times. One group of protesters, carrying signs that read “Choose Families Over Politics,” apparently urged her to support policy along the lines of the DREAM Act to afford young, undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship in the United States. Earlier this year, Clinton said in response to the surge of child immigrants from South American countries, “Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”
As the protesters were escorted out of the rally, Clinton said she was just about to talk about Maryland’s DREAM Act, which allows undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition in the state, and noted she co-sponsored the DREAM Act as a U.S. senator from New York.
High-profile speakers at the event credited Brown as a leader in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, which occurred in 2012 under his watch as part of the O’Malley administration.
Clinton made a reference to Brown’s record on gay nuptials — as well as his positions on other progressive values — saying “everyone in Maryland shares marriage equality no matter who we are.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), one the speakers at the rally, said Brown “fought so hard for marriage equality” in his capacity as lieutenant governor.
Ben Kramer, president of the University of Maryland College Democrats, alluded to Brown’s support for marriage equality, saying the candidate realizes the people in Maryland should have the “same right and privileges regardless of who we love.”
“We need a governor who knows that investing in all of America’s young people is key to our state’s continued growth,” Kramer added.
Notably, Brown himself didn’t make a reference to the passage of marriage equality in Maryland, although he spoke about championing progressive issues like raising the minimum wage and protecting a woman’s right to choose. No speaker at the event also mentioned the passage of civil rights legislation in Maryland protecting transgender people from discrimination.
Although the rally was geared to promote Brown’s candidacy, Clinton stole the show, receiving significant applause as she entered the stage — and whenever her name was spoken by other speakers prior to her appearance. The gay attendees at the rally were particularly excited about her appearance.
Matthew Gab, who’s gay and a junior at University of Maryland, College Park, said he came to the attend the rally because of both Brown and Clinton, but “having Secretary Clinton here was, of course, the biggest draw because I’ve always wanted to see her speak in person.”
“I’m a big feminist, proponent of women’s rights, so just seeing someone who can finally break the glass ceiling and get a woman into the White House — I get to watch history in the making,” Gab said.
Dustin Vick, a gay D.C. resident, said he came to the rally in support of Brown because, with no similar race for governor in the district, he wanted to take part in an event for a candidate in the upcoming election running at that level. But asked whether Clinton was a factor in his attendance, Vick replied, “Of course.”
“Everyone wants to see Hillary; she’s a big draw and we’re big supporters of Hillary,” Vick said. “We’re excited for her to run for president in 2016, and we think that this is an opportunity to state her platform and be supportive of someone running for governor.”
Other speakers at the event were House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Once thought to be a potential 2016 presidential contender, O’Malley when speaking before Clinton said she “served our country so very well.”
Closing her remarks, Brown himself made the case for Clinton, which possibly could be a preclude to her announcing her bid for the White House ahead of the 2016 election.
“In order to achieve success, we need some good soldiers and some good leaders, and I’ll tell you right now, she came to Maryland today for us,” Brown said. “She’s a great leader and she’s a great soldier.”