Former President Bill Clinton held a rally in Raleigh Monday morning and urged voters to support his wife Hillary in next week’s primary.
Bill Clinton addressed a wide range of policy issues in a 45-minute speech at downtown’s City Market. He criticized Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ policy proposals, including his plan for free college tuition, and he compared the Republican presidential debates to a “grade-school playground fight.”
Hillary Clinton, he said, is better qualified to be president than any candidate from either party. “I hope you’ll vote for her because she’s the single best change-maker I’ve ever known,” Bill Clinton said.
Clinton said the Sanders proposal for free tuition isn’t the best way to guarantee access to higher education because it would drive up tuition costs.
“Hillary favors free tuition for everybody that needs it and more help for people that need it,” Clinton said. “She believes that people who can afford to pay something should pay something.”
He also praised his wife’s plan for tackling student loan debt, which would allow people to refinance college loans and other debts into a 20-year mortgage with payments based on income.
“Think of what this will do for America,” he said. “First of all, everybody can move out of their parents’ house. ... You’re free to build your own future.”
U.S. Rep. David Price, speaking before Clinton, joined in the criticism of Sanders. He said Hillary Clinton had a strong performance in Sunday night’s debate in Michigan.
“Sen. Clinton’s opponent was left having to explain why, on the basis on his political ideology, he was willing to let the American auto industry go down – not his best moment,” Price said.
During the debate, Sanders countered with criticism that Hillary Clinton supported the bailout of the financial industry and other “disastrous trade agreements.”
Not everyone at the Clinton rally came with an unfavorable view of Sanders. Whit Hames of Raleigh – who wore a “I miss Bill” t-shirt to the event – said he views the Democratic primary as a “coin toss in a lot of ways.” He says he’d like to see Clinton and Sanders become running mates.
Hames was quick to praise Bill Clinton and said he was eager to hear from the former president. “When he was president, we had more peace and prosperity,” Hames said. “He’s an amazing guy.”
Clinton had a busy schedule in North Carolina, with stops scheduled later Monday in Greensboro and Charlotte. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit the state on Thursday, but no details have been released about when and where she’ll hold events.
As Bill Clinton took the stage in Raleigh, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was preparing to hold a rally in Concord – his first of two in the state this week. Trump will also be in Fayetteville on Wednesday.
So far, none of the other presidential candidates have announced plans to campaign in North Carolina ahead of the March 15 primary.
Shortly before Clinton’s speech, the Republican National Committee sent out a statement pointing out that neither Clinton has won in North Carolina before.
“What her campaign forgets is that North Carolinians have already rejected Clinton and her husband three times before,” spokeswoman Kara Carter said. “No amount of spin will change the fact that voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton.”