Bill Clinton advocates for Hillary Clinton, emphasizing policies in campaign stop

by Melanie Kos | 10/18/16 12:34am

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Former President Bill Clinton spoke Monday morning in Alumni Hall.

by Hollye Swinehart / The Dartmouth

In a campaign stop for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Alumni Hall yesterday, former President Bill Clinton discussed economic and climate policy and criticized the divisive rhetoric of the election.

In addition to supporting Secretary Clinton’s bid for president, Bill Clinton lauded President Obama’s accomplishments in office, such as economic growth and expanded health care coverage. He said that the United States just passed through its 79th month of job growth, and that Hillary was the only candidate with a sensible economic plan, and that she can build up the country’s infrastructure.

Clinton also addressed America’s social climate and the Republican presidential campaign, though he never referred to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump by name.

“I don’t like ‘Make America Great Again’ because I know exactly what it means,” Clinton said. “It means, ‘vote for me and I’ll give you the country of 50 years ago and put you back up on the social totem pole.’ It is exactly the wrong message.”

Clinton ended his speech on campus yesterday with a one-liner from a friend living in Texas that he believes describes this election.

“If you don’t want somebody to drive the truck off the cliff, do not give them the keys,” Clinton said.

He followed up by saying that if Hillary Clinton is given the keys, she’ll “open the back, put everybody on [and] drive us to a new mountaintop.”

Yesterday’s event kicked off with a performance by the Dartmouth Aires and several speakers, including Martha Hennessey ’76, a Democrat running for State Senate, and Colin Van Ostern Tu’09, the Democratic nominee for Governor in the state of the New Hampshire.

Hennessey shared stories of her time at the College and commented on the difficulties she faced as a member of the first class of women at the College.

“One of the things that I’ve learned is that it won’t always be easy as a woman walking into a room full of men, but it will be rewarding in the end,” Hennessey said. “I graduated forty years ago, and we still haven’t had a female president. This time, we’re going to.”

Van Ostern said three words won him over for Hillary: “debt-free college.” Prior to Van Ostern’s candidacy for governor, he worked with College for America, a “school dedicated to the idea that students could get a degree without going into debt.” Van Ostern was raised by a single mother, and he owed $30,000 after college, which was his motivation for first becoming first chief marketing officer and now serving as senior advisor of the nonprofit.

“Success is about helping others succeed,” he said.

Students, faculty, staff and community members were in attendance at the event and gave various reasons on why they decided to attend.

Jennifer West ’20 , an attendee and member of the College Democrats, said she was interested what Bill Clinton had to say about the important issues facing college students, since this event was catered to a younger crowd.

Tyler Baum ’20 echoed West, saying he attended the event because he was interested in hearing Bill Clinton’s speech, but identified as being on the “Never Hillary train.”

“I’ve come here with an open mind,” he said. “I’ve heard he’s a great orator.”

Michael T. Brown II, an area coordinator at Colby-Sawyer College who attended the event, said he is a Hillary supporter, who wanted to meet Clinton and hear him speak.

“[Dartmouth] is really close, just right up the road, so I figured, why not?” Brown said.

Jim Heffernan, an English professor emeritus at the College, and Nancy Heffernan live in the area and attended Clinton’s speech in support of Hillary Clinton.

“We loved Hillary from the start,” Nancy Heffernan said, recalling the Clintons’ visits to Hanover in 1992, when Bill Clinton first ran for president. Jim Heffernan said he introduced Bill and Hillary Clinton during these visits.

Tiffanie Wen, a journalist who recently moved to New Hampshire from California, sees New Hampshire as a very important voter state.

“Now that I’m in living in West Lebanon, I wanted to get involved,” she said.

Looking forward, Clinton also stressed the need for unity after the election season.

“One of the things I think we have to do once this election is over is not to treat the people on the other side of this great divide the way they and their candidate have treated us.”

Bill Clinton’s visit was announced this past weekend. Clinton chose to visit Dartmouth and Keene State in his first trip of the general election.