Thousands attend Clinton rally in Tampa

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TAMPA, Fla. — Hillary Clinton supporters greeted the Democratic presidential nominee with chants of “Happy birthday” as she arrived at a rally on her 69th birthday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

Clinton spoke before a crowd of thousands as she stumped for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, outlined promises for her would-be presidency, and criticized Republican opponent Donald Trump.

She also praised celebrity chef Jose Andres for declining to open a restaurant inside rival Donald Trump’s new Washington, D.C., hotel. When Andres heard Trump’s talk about immigrants, he refused to open a restaurant in that hotel, Clinton said, callling it a “really gutsy” decision.

Clinton was introduced by the chef, who told the outdoor crowd that he could be at the Washington hotel on Wednesday but he would rather be in Tampa to “support this amazing woman.”

Many who came to see Clinton pointed to her gender as a galvanizing factor in her candidacy.

“I’ve waited my whole life to have a woman — a qualified, fabulous woman — become our president, the first woman president of the United States,” supporter Toni Vanpelt said. And she has sacrificed so much for us, and I just want her to know that I’m here in this crowd.”

California resident Michael Pole traveled to Florida for the rally and to work for the Clinton campaign in Cape Coral.

“I think she’s eminently more qualified that anybody else who’s running for the president of the United States,” Pole said. “And the idea of having the first woman president — that is amazing.”

Not everyone at the rally was there to back the Democratic nominee. Protestors showed up, including a woman who held a sign suggesting that Clinton’s gender shouldn’t be the deciding factor for voters.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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