RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Former president Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech in Raleigh Monday to boost his wife’s campaign for president.
Hillary Clinton is locked in a battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.
“She always makes something good happen, always,” Bill Clinton said at the Market Hall in downtown Raleigh.
The North Carolina primary is March 15 and many of the presidential candidates are expected in the state over the next week. Republican leader Donald Trump will speak in Concord on Monday and in Fayetteville Wednesday.
Bill Clinton, during a lengthy presentation before a crowd of several hundred, highlighted many of the points Hillary Clinton has made on the campaign trail as well.
“Hillary does not agree when the other party says they want to make America great again,” he said. “This country never stopped being great.”
But, he said, the United States must become “whole again.”
To do that, Clinton said, the country must have “inclusive politics,” and he railed against the divisiveness in Washington which he said has tied the hands of President Barack Obama.
He spoke of how the nation came together after the shootings in a Charleston, South Carolina, church.
But, he said, “We cannot have to have a national tragedy to get people to open their hearts and do what’s right.”
He pointed to North Carolina as an example of where voting rights have been restricted and raised concerns about a voter identification bill passed by the Republican-led General Assembly.
“If for no other reason we have to win this election to expand voting rights, not restrict them,” Bill Clinton said.
He said his wife’s plans for the economy are the best fit for what America needs. He said creating more sources of clean fuel was essential for the future economy, and that Hillary Clinton had a plan to increase solar power. He also said she would help restore manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
He said American small businesses are hurting, and that Hillary Clinton would help those key parts of the economy by encouraging bank loans that would help.
“She’s got the best plan,” he said.
A key issue for North Carolina, with its rich college system, is the cost of college and the heavy debts that many students face. Clinton said he often goes to coffee shops and encourages bantering with barristers about their college debts.
But paying off the debts can take years. He said college should be free for those who need it, and that the wealthy should pay for their own education.
“Hillary’s plan is better in the world we are living in,” Clinton said.
In particular, he said she had a plan for allowing people to refinance their college loans. “A college loan is the only loan in American you cannot refinance,” he said.
He also said she had a plan to let people have their loans forgiven if they gave a certain amount of time to service groups like AmeriCorps.
Finally, he said Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State best prepared her to be president because of her experience dealing with other countries. “We have to have somebody who says we want more partners and fewer adversaries in a world where we can’t kill or occupy everybody who is against us,” Clinton said.
He got one of the biggest cheers of the morning when he said Americans shouldn’t “demonize” those who are Muslim and said, “It’s wrong. It’s just wrong.”
He concluded by speaking on a personal note about how he had known Hillary Clinton for years and was always struck by how she was always working to help others and to work with others. That included, he said, her time in the Senate, when he said she worked effectively with Republicans.
“We can win this race,” he said. “We can stop the other party from totally taking over the government.”
Hillary Clinton is seeking to become the first female president.
“It would be a good thing if we had our first woman president,” Bill Clinton said. “But that’s not why I hope you will vote for her. I hope you will vote for her because she’s the best single change-maker I’ve ever known.”
Bill Clinton drew rave responses from his wife’s supporters.
Senate minority leader Dan Blue said, “I just think she wraps up in one candidate all of the things that we want and the kind of leader that this country deserves.”
And Bruce Thompson, a Clinton campaign advisor who is the head of Parker Poe’s Government & Public Policy Group, said, “I can’t think of a better candidate to help people in North Carolina achieve their dreams.”
In a response later Monday, the Republican National Committee said in a statement, “Fresh off a week chock-full of damaging developments in her email scandal, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is now sending in Bill Clinton to push false talking points to North Carolina voters. What her campaign forgets is that North Carolinians have already rejected Clinton and her husband three times before. No amount of spin will change the fact that voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton.”