In St. Pete, Clinton talks economics at brewery, rally

The wall of rain was visible through an open warehouse door.

A large contraption toward the middle of the room was canning Bimini Twist IPA four at a time.

Secret Service members, media and brewery staff milled about, all waiting for Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who was to set foot in 3 Daughters Brewery any minute.

Down the street some, the likes of Congresswoman Kathy Castor, former Gov. Charlie Crist, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson warmed up the large crowd that was gathering at St. Petersburg Coliseum to see and hear Clinton.

It was a long wait, but Clinton showed up at the brewery at 2:30.

Brewery owners Mike and Lee Harting greeted the candidate and her entourage, and for several minutes they stood and talked in front of a massive column of ready-to-ship six-packs before they launched on a meandering tour of the popular craft beer brewery.

Ostensibly, Clinton was in town to tout her plan for growing the economy, which she said includes making it easier for businesses like this to form and do business. Yet her remarks at the brewery and subsequently at the Coliseum seemed to draw a sharp contrasts between herself and Republican opponent Donald Trump, who outlined his economic plan — bleak, isolationist and heavy on fossil fuels on Monday as well.

Of course, St. Pete happens to be in the largest media market in the largest swing state, so there's that.

After she toured the brewery, Clinton said she gleaned a lot from her conversation with the Hartings about the challenges of succeeding as a small business and how the feds could make it easier for them.

“I feel like I've learned a lot today. I really appreciate your being so well prepared to give me these great ideas that I could then try to take and put to work on behalf of businesses like yours and businesses across the country,” Clinton said.

Among these: turning the Small Burinsses Administration into a one-stop shop in terms of information for fledgling companies and connecting small businesses with American suppliers (3 Daughters has purchased brewing equipment from a local company).

And while she generally shied away from talking trash about Trump, Clinton — whose father was a textile wholesaler — said his track record (ripping off contractors and all) suggests he doesn't exactly understand what it's like to run a small company.

“It really is true that I feel a special bond with small businesses and that I want to be a small business president because of my dad's experience. And this is one of the big differences between me and the Republican nominee,” she said. “That's why I just can't imagine — he worked so hard. If he had delivered the finished goods to the people who had ordered them, that they would have said 'they're not going to pay you.' And that's what Trump has done time and time again.”

After wrapping up to cheers and applause from supporters who were let in and watched from the sidelines, she and her motorcade high-tailed it to the Coliseum, where she delivered a speech that was something of a hybrid between her July 28 speech at the Democratic National Convention and the one she had just delivered, and she took dead aim at Trump's proposals, which she said were basically the second coming of trickle-down economics.

"Trickle-down economics does not help our economy grow," she said. It does not help the vast majority of Americans, but it does really well for people already at the top. But we're going to turn that upside down. We're going to make the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes, for a change."

Outside the venue stood a handful of skeptics, including longtime activist Rev. Bruce Wright of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.

" We want to do everything we can to point out the fact that Hillary is a corporate candidate," said Wright, who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary but now supports Green Party nominee Jill Stein, "that she's a warmonger, that she also supports the Trans Pacific Partnership, her husband was responsible for welfare reform that put millions on the street and the crime bill that criminalized hundreds of thousands of people of color and increased the prison population. Hillary is no different from Trump."

On the other side of the building, a man driving by in a cargo van with insignia of a local contractor seemed to disagree.

"Trump! Trump! Trump!" he shouted out his window at a stoplight as Clinton supporters streamed out of the Coliseum.

Clinton went onto speak in Orlando later Monday evening and is scheduled to speak Tuesday in South Florida.

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