Elizabeth Warren brought her campaign to NC A&T University’s Harrison Auditorium on Thursday, promising $50 billion in aid for historically black colleges and universities, along with other boosts for the education sector.
The Democratic presidential candidate and US senator opened the event with a comment on class in America.
“When you see a government that works great for those with money, and it’s not working so well for much of anyone else, that is corruption pure and simple and we need to call it out for what it is,” Warren said. “And here’s the best part: I’m here today because 2020 is our chance to turn that around.”
Warren stopped at the campus for a live podcast recording with Angela Rye, commentator for CNN and NPR and host of the podcast “On One.” The conversation with Rye lasted over an hour, drifting from rapid-fire “yes or no” questions to in depth discussions about wealth disparity, childcare and healthcare.
Warren highlighted the impeachment proceedings against President Trump to drive home her message about corruption in Washington. Beyond the Ukraine scandal, she argued that the Mueller Report had already built a case for impeachment.
“No one is above the law,” Warren said, “not even the president of the United States.”
When asked about her priorities as a presidential candidate, Warren brought up her tax plan. She laid out her plan included a two-cent tax on every dollar above $50 million that a person possesses.
“Now, your first $50 million is free and clear,” she said, “but on your 50-million-and-first dollar, you’ve got to pitch in two cents. And two cents on every dollar above that.”
The plan, Warren said, would allow economic room for ventures that would boost educational institutions, including colleges by adding funding for HBCUs, working towards tuition-free college, and cancelling the student debts of millions. She argued that her policies would free up an entire generation to build small businesses and transform the economy.
Warren’s plan also included prioritizing public schools, increasing teacher pay, and universal childcare and preschool.
“It’s universal childcare for every baby in this country age 0-5,” Warren pointed towards a mother and her child sitting on her lap, “including that one in the back.”
Laurie Arena, mother of 7-month-old Dylan, said Warren’s focus on family motivated her to attend and to promise her vote to Warren, and having Warren meet her child was a plus.
“I feel like her policies want to protect children,” Arena said.
Addressing the issue of healthcare, Rye asked Warren to respond to critics who have labeled her Medicare-for-all plan a “pipe dream.” The presidential candidate shared a personal anecdote about her family while she was in middle school, when her father suffered from a heart attack.
“He made it, but he didn’t work for a long, long time.” Warren said. “This turned us upside down.”
She continued the story to describe how her mother getting a minimum wage job helped them financially recover, adding that she does not believe the situation could happen today.
“Today, a full-time minimum wage job in America won’t keep a momma and a baby out of poverty,” she said.
Near the end of her appearance, Warren reiterated her pledge to distribute $50 billion to historically black colleges and universities such as A&T. Warren stated that it would be up to individual institutions to decide what to do with the money, whether that took the form of investing in more professors, more buildings or revitalizing campuses.
“We need to reduce our investment in billionaires and increase our investment in an entire generation of Americans,” Warren said.
One of the guests at the campaign rally was Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who announced her endorsement of Warren on Wednesday.
Pressley explained why she is is backing her fellow Massachusetts lawmaker.
“What I need is a visionary partner, a bold activist leader who is going to center the voices of communities, who can teach as much as she can learn,” Pressley said, “and that is what we have in Elizabeth Warren, and that is why I am so very proud to be standing with her.”
After the end of the event, Warren received supporters, one by one, onstage, where they shook hands, hugged and posed for selfies.
Stepping down from the stage, Brittney Elliott and Abena Konadu, both juniors, excitedly swiped through their camera rolls, showing each other photos.
“You can see when she gets energized,” Elliott said. “She gets louder, or she’ll hit the chair a little bit. She was really passionate and really believed what she was talking about.”
Both the students held their phones with excitement, saying they had known Warren tended to set up a line for selfies after each campaign stop, and had hoped A&T was no exception.
“She wants to connect with us.” Konadu said. “She wants to look us all in the eye.”