Former President Clinton Campaigns Again in Ohio

Listen to the Story

Former President Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Chillicothe Monday. Ohio First Lady Frances Strickland looks on.
Former President Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Chillicothe Monday. Ohio First Lady Frances Strickland looks on.

Bill Clinton today campaigned for his wife in Southern Ohio. The Former President made stops in Portsmouth, Athens and Lancaster. WOSU’s Sam Hendren reports on Bill Clinton’s visit to Chillicothe.

Former president Clinton was greeted by about 800 people in Chillicothe walking into a sea of red, white and blue Hillary yard signs on either side of a university gymnasium. Mr. Clinton restrained criticism of his wife’s challenger, Barack Obama, calling both candidates “eloquent people.” But he went on to say his wife has more experience. He paraphrased what she said during the closing statements of the recent Texas debate.

“Hillary said, ‘I have been driven by my religious convictions and my upbringing to believe that my obligation in life is to make sure that every other American has the some opportunities that I have had,’” Clinton said. “And I believe that we can do that through cooperation when we can and standing our ground when we must.”

Mr. Clinton hurried through a list of his wife’s proposals, blasting President Bush’s No Child Left Behind program. He said Hillary Clinton would back more equitable student loans, more Pell Grants, a doubling of the Earned Income Tax Credit for families paying tuition and she’d push for more ways to repay student loans through public service. At times, however, it seemed the former president was slipping back into his former role as commander-in-chief.

“In the 1990s when Ohio, thank you very much, gave me the chance to be president twice we had 22.7 million new jobs. In this decade, 5 million,” he said.

Mr. Clinton received enthusiastic applause when he spoke about withdrawing troops from Iraq. But the strongest applause came on the subject of universal health care.

“Then you have the doctors of America joining the nurses who have always been for universal health care,” Clinton said. “The American Nursing Association endorsed Hillary for president in this primary because she has the only plan that covers all Americans. They have never done this before in a Democratic primary and I appreciate it.”

The former president spoke for about 45 minutes before he was whisked away to another Ohio engagement.

Leaving the gym, VA employee Melissa Mark says she’s yet to be persuaded about who will get her vote.

“Being in Dessert Storm and Iraq myself I still have a hard time believing any president’s going to bring them home,” Mark said. “I just hope they’re true to their word. It’s pretty sad; they’ve been over there for a long time. At first I thought it was for a good cause but I’m not so sure anymore.”

Dave Higgs attended the campaign rally and said Mr. Clinton is still persuasive. Even though his wife supports Hillary Clinton, he says he’ll support Obama until the Democratic Party’s nominee is chosen.

“This was a very good opportunity to hear Hillary’s message through Bill,” Higgs said. “I just like the enthusiasm that Barack brings. I think he can bring people together a little more-so than Hillary.”

On a downtown Chillicothe street Michael London’s views may foreshadow the Ohio primary. He did not attend the Clinton rally, saying he supports Obama.

“I’m not a supporter of Hillary Clinton, not that I don’t agree with her views it’s just that I’m voting for the other party…the other candidate,” London said.

Ohio’s sprawling Appalachian region could be pivotal to Hillary Clinton’s hopes of holding off opponent Barrack Obama. A million and a half people are scattered across the region.