President Bill Clinton didn’t take a lot of jabs at Hillary’s opponent, but he didn’t need to—that’s what the local politicians were for (more on that later). Instead, his time at the Community Family Life & Recreation Center at Lyon Park in Durham’s West End yesterday was spent talking about education, immigration, and everything except what he was billed to talk about—early voting and voter registration.
To a crowd of more than seven hundred (capacity was 720, and fire marshals stopped admitting people before Clinton spoke), he said, “North Carolina at its best represents the future of America and, I hope, the entire world.”
The seventy-year-old ex-prez was in his prime as he spoke about why Hillary deserves to be the next president. He worked the crowd like only he can, and the crowd loved every minute of it.
“Real life is hard work. Real change is hard work. And if you look into the eyes of these young kids, it’s worth it,” Clinton said. “What works is making the teachers better teachers, principals better principals.“
He also spoke about the change in the economy since the financial crisis eight years ago and how the nation as changed over the over that time. “If you adjust for inflation, eighty percent of the American people have not yet had a pay raise, even though we’ve had the longest continuous period of economic expansion since the end of World War II,” he said.
Those changes exemplify the Clinton campaign’s Stronger Together slogan, he said—especially on matters of the economy.
“What we need is faster, more fairly shared growth. … The way to do that is to create better jobs and make sure the incomes are fairly shared,” he said. “[Hillary] was the first candidate, so far the only one left, who actually had a serious, specific plan to get banks to increase lending to small businesses. … She has a plan to promote fair trade and manufacturing that has been endorsed in Ohio, a battleground state, by the chairman of the House Manufacturing Caucus.”
He argued that the nation can’t afford another eight years where more than 90 percent of the earnings go to 1 percent of the people.
“Don’t take my word for it,” Clinton said. “Senator John McCain’s economic advisor, Mark Zandi, runs a big economic analysis company—very highly regarded by everybody in the business. He actually analyzed the specific proposals Hillary made, and the specific proposals Mr. Trump made. And he concluded that if her plans passes we can get at least seven-point-five million jobs … and under [Trump’s] plans, we lose three-point-five million jobs. We cannot afford a fourteen-million-job difference.”
Her husband also sold the crowd on Hillary’s student loan plan—one she developed with the help of her challenger, Bernie Sanders.
“If you go to a public college, a historically black college or university, or any other private college that has a preponderance of middle- or low-income students, reasonable tuition, and a high graduation rate, [and] if you’re income is one hundred twenty-five thousand a year or less, you get free tuition,” he said. “If you’re already out and owe money, her plans says first we should stop making college loans the only loans where you can’t refinance. … Then she favors giving everybody a choice. You can pay the debt off if it is fairly modest by doing public service work for three years. … She proposed letting people turn that debt into something that looks like a home mortgage.”
Clinton also discussed his wife’s immigration plans—and contrasted them with her opponent’s. “We can’t afford the one hundred million it costs to send everybody home and build that wall. … The point is these people are making a net positive contribution to our economy. It’s very interesting that the places in America where the anti-immigration sentiments are the strongest are the places where there are the fewest immigrants.”
After his thirty-minute speech, the forty-second president took the time to shake hands and meet with some people in the crowd. And even before he set foot in the community center he stopped at the Durham Co-op Market to pick up some local Durham goods—including a six-pack of Ponysaurus’s Scottish Ale.
Local politicians got in some of the best jabs at Donald Trump during the stop.
Durham Mayor Bill Bell has the first jab on Trump of the night: “I don’t want to talk much about the Republican gentleman running against Hillary Clinton in this election, he just doesn’t deserve much air time because of how stunningly apparent it is that he’s fundamentally unqualified to serve as our commander in chief.”
And North Carolina State Senator Mike Woodard (who represents the state’s twenty-second district which encompasses Durham), had some of the best one-liners of the afternoon including and multiple well-timed “Bless his heart,” to Trump.
“I’ve spoken Southern all my life. You North Carolinians know our mothers taught us if you can’t say something good don’t say anything at all. But every time I see or hear the Republican nominee it’s really hard for me to do,” Woodard said.
Other standout comments from Woodard were: “In North Carolina we like taco trucks and we want them on every corner” and “We North Carolinians like our flip-flops at the beach not in the White House.”