Bill Clinton talks education, unity during Wilmington visit

Noah Thomas | Sports Editor

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Former President Bill Clinton made a campaign appearance in Wilmington Wednesday on behalf of his wife, former Secretary of State and current Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Clinton’s stop in Wilmington, held on Cape Fear Community College’s campus, kicked off day two of the Clinton campaign’s “NC Votes Early” tour — an initiative to encourage voters to cast their ballots before election day in the swing state.

North Carolina has become hotly contested in most presidential polls this election season. According to The New York Times’s latest poll, Hillary Clinton leads Republican nominee Donald Trump by seven points.

Mr. Clinton knew this coming in — he told supporters, “we need you, North Carolina. Thank you and God bless you,” to end his address, but not before touching on multiple issues both candidates find vital to their respective campaigns.

After dismissing a heckler wearing Trump paraphernalia, Mr. Clinton explained to the crowd what “Stronger Together,” in Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan, means:

“‘Stronger Together’ means that America would work better, the world would work better, and every state and community would work better if it operated like this community college,” he said. “It’s open to everybody, affordable, nobody cares about your race, religion, your sexual orientation — it’s flexible and changes to meet the needs of the evolving economy.”

The nation’s 42nd president went on to address the country’s growing need to invest in infrastructure — including the future of renewable energy — education, and the importance of coming together as a nation instead of devolving due to slight differences.

He wasted no time comparing his wife’s plans with those of Trump, citing a report from Sen. John McCain’s economic adviser for the 2008 presidential campaign on the current candidates’ job plans. 

“He analyzed Hillary’s plan and her opponent’s plan, and he said if her’s is implemented, it will create at least 10.5 million jobs over the next four years,” Clinton said. “His will cost 3.5 million. So if anyone asks you what you’ve got to lose [if you vote for Trump], tell them 14 million jobs.”

The topic of education became a larger focus as Mr. Clinton’s speech went on — particularly the amount of debt with which college students are graduating.

A woman the Clinton’s know in New York, he said, has a son who will graduate from college in the near future with loans carrying a nine percent interest rate. When Clinton asked her what the interest rate on her mortgage was, she told him it was just over four percent.

“Every single college student should get out of undergraduate school completely debt free,” he said. “A college loan is the only loan you can’t refinance when interest rates go down. That’s not right.”

Clinton commented on the current social backlash within North Carolina caused by House Bill 2, referring to Attorney General Roy Cooper as “your next governor.”

To add levity to the conclusion of his speech, Clinton turned to a joke a friend told him about this year’s election.

“If you don’t want someone to drive the truck off the cliff, don’t give them the keys,” he said. “If you elect Hillary, and you elect Roy Cooper and [U.S. Senatorial candidate] Deborah Ross, you give her the keys.” 

“She will first go around to the back of the truck, open the door, and put everybody on it. She will avoid numerous hazards and not drive off the cliff. Instead, she will take that truck to the very top of a new mountain, which is America’s constant mission.”


Noah Thomas can be found on Twitter @iNoahT