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Amid Slip in Iowa Polls, Clinton Maintains Enthusiasm before UW-Milwaukee Crowd

Ann-Elise Henzl

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton gave a fiery speech Thursday evening, in her first Wisconsin appearance since she entered the 2016 presidential race.

Her speech at UW-Milwaukee was only about a half-hour long, yet Clinton packed in a lot of material. Here are a few areas she addressed:

On the nation's recovery from the Great Recession: "If we get incomes rising again, if we raise the minimum wage, if we once again give people hope, we'll be back on track for sure."

"We have to deal with the threat of terrorism from ISIS and these other networks, we have to deal with a huge refugee crisis, we have a lot of work to do in the world."

"You can refinance your home, you can refinance your car -- a lot of people did that in order to get the lower interest rates -- but you can't refinance your student debt. That is just wrong. Under my plan, we're going to refinance and bring those costs down."

The comment about student debt was especially popular among the audience, which included a number of people attending UWM.

Clinton's appearance was billed as an event on women's issues, and she returned to that theme often, including when talking about wages.

"When I talk about equal pay for equal work and some of these issues that really affect a lot of working women, the Republicans often say, 'oh there she goes, playing the gender card.' Well, if advocating for equal pay for equal work is playing the gender card, deal me in. I am ready to play that as hard as I can," Clinton said.

Clinton peppered her speech with digs aimed at the Republicans seeking their party's nomination. She made a few jabs at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. And she took on GOP front-runner Donald Trump, over comments he's made about women.

"You know, I love it when he's criticized and he comes back and he says he loves women, in fact he says he cherishes us. Well that's really nice, but if it's all the same to you Mr. Trump, I'd rather you stopped cherishing women, and started respecting women," Clinton said.

Clinton drew an overflow crowd, with some people having to listen to her address in another room. Most gave her a warm reception. But a few times, protesters shouted at Clinton, and in one case, a group began to chant. Clinton pressed on, addressing the topic of race.

"Now, I want to say something about another issue you will not hear about from the Republicans. You will not hear them say anything about ending the era of mass incarceration and you will not hear them say 'black lives matter.'"

We asked a number of people in the crowd what they thought about Clinton. Most support her. But Sandra Pucci says she prefers Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Yet she wanted to see what Clinton had to say.

"She can come and support a $15 minimum wage, she can pledge to not wage war in Iran. I would like to hear her say she supports public education, including the university system," Pucci said.

Pucci says Clinton might be her choice, if Sanders is out of the running by the Wisconsin primary. Meanwhile, the outlook for Sanders improved Thursday. A new Quinnipiac University poll showed Sanders leading Clinton in Iowa, 41 to 40 percent. That compares to a double-digit lead Clinton enjoyed in the July survey.

Ann-Elise is WUWM's news director.