By Oscar Gamble
WHITPAIN >> Hundreds of supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton packed Parkhouse Hall at Montgomery County Community College Tuesday afternoon to hear former president Bill Clinton’s pitch to voters on why his wife, the former Secretary of State and senator from New York, should be the nation’s next president.
A diverse crowd, some of whom waved signs that read “Loves Trumps Hate” and “Stronger Together,” enthusiastically welcomed several speakers while anticipating the arrival of the 42nd president of the United States.
About a dozen supporters of Republican nominee Donald Trump convened just outside the campus on DeKalb Street to protest the rally.
After opening remarks by Nathaniel Lewis, an organizer with Democratic political organization PA Victory, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman and MCCC trustee Marcel Groen took to the podium and stressed the importance of a Clinton victory in Montgomery County for her prospects for the presidency.
Groen was followed by Democratic Montgomery County Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Val Arkoosh, who also laid out the case for Clinton.
Shapiro — who is running for Pennsylvania Attorney General — fired up the Clinton faithful by portraying Trump as a tax-dodging, unscrupulous businessman at the pinnacle of “the rip-of economy.”
Arkoosh said she is backing Hillary Clinton because of their shared commitment to quality education for all, clean safe streets, a living wage and treating everyone with respect and dignity. Before introducing Bill Clinton, Arkoosh added that it was a telling sign that none of the five living former American presidents is supporting Trump.
Bill Clinton stepped to the microphone at approximately 3:30 p.m. and delivered a succinct stump speech outlining his better half’s accomplishments, and qualifications to be commander-in-chief.
He began by expounding on the notion that the country “would be way better off” if it ran more like a community college, an institution which, he said, is open to everyone, and focuses on “empowering people with knowledge,” so they can better themselves and “improve their prospects.”
Clinton touted the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ as an axiom that is “not just about politics, but about a way of thinking and a way of living,” and contrasted it with the Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” which he characterized as an empty promise to move the economically stagnant “back up on the social totem pole.”
“I’d like to be 20 again,” Clinton said. “We’re on the verge of the greatest period of discovery and shared prosperity in our history if we do the right thing. I’m not pessimistic about the future. We have more assets for the future than any country on earth. So I would like to be 20 again. But I wouldn’t vote for anybody who promised to make me 20 again,” he quipped to laughter and applause. “Hillary wants to tear the social totem pole down!”
The former president touted Hillary Clinton’s proposals to make college more affordable and to allow those with tuition debt to refinance.
Clinton pointed toward America’s growing energy independence and the record numbers of people with health insurance as indicators that the country is moving in the right direction, but acknowledged the problems of high health insurance rates and premiums that make coverage unaffordable for small business owners and those who don’t qualify for subsidies. He cited Mrs. Clinton’s advocacy of a public option and plans to allow those older than 55 to buy into Medicare as possible solutions.
“She’s the only person you can vote for who said ‘Let’s dramatically increase loans and guarantees in the Small Business Administration. Let’s cut the cost and burden of making small business loans.’ ... We shouldn’t weaken regulations at the top,” he said, referring to the banking crisis that led to ‘the great recession’. “We should weaken them at the bottom so new creative businesses can be formed.”
President Clinton talked about Hillary Clinton’s belief that manufacturing jobs can return to the U.S. if energy prices are kept low, and praised her commitment to incentivizing companies that choose not to relocate overseas to avoid taxes while penalizing those that do.
“This is a big job; being president,” Clinton said. “It matters if you have ideas, common sense and can really get something done.”
“If you don’t want someone to drive the truck off a cliff. Do not give them the keys,” said Clinton in a final swipe at Trump. “You ought to give Hillary the keys. Cause if you give her the keys this is the first thing she’ll do: First she’ll go to the back of the truck, open it up, and put all Americans on. And then she’ll drive it straight up to the top of a new mountain, which is exactly where we need to go together.”
After Clinton’s final remarks, dozens of supporters lingered for photographs with the former president and other Democratic Party luminaries.
“I think that she (Hillary Clinton) can catapult us into somewhere we need to get to — to move this thing forward so that all working people can be afforded the opportunity to take care of their families and have a hand up, not a handout,” said Roy Brown, an organizer with Laborer’s International Union of America. “We want to move forward with hope, not fear.”
Brown said he took stock in Clinton’s speech, in part, because of the budget surplus and high employment rate with which the former president left office.
“The speech was very uplifting. He knows what he’s talking about,” said Sandy Merchant of Bucks County. “I just think she (Hillary Clinton) will make a wonderful president. “Hopefully she’ll be able to bring people together. I don’t know if that’s possible.”