Former President Bill Clinton urged Arizonans on Thursday to help “restore the middle class dream in America” by voting for his wife in Tuesday’s presidential primary.
Greeted with long cheers and applause, Clinton took the stage about 9 p.m. at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium. He spent the next hour detailing Hillary Clinton’s policy positions on health care, education, the economy, energy and foreign affairs.
She alone has the vision, plan and the ability to make the changes needed to fix America’s domestic and global problems, Clinton said, and she is best equipped to unite Americans.
“We’ve got to do this together,” he said. “No one is excluded. We want everyone to be part of our America.”
His only mention of her Democratic rival Barack Obama came when he talked about Thursday night’s televised debate between Obama and his wife. But even then, the previously fiesty Clinton was gracious.
“She was magnificent,” he said to loud applause. “Senator Obama was also very good and you would have been proud of this party.”
But Hillary is “your best bet” to attack the problems and pass the tests of the presidency, he said.
“A president has to have the right vision for America,” he said.
Her vision includes universal health care. Clinton asked for a show of hands among those who knew someone who was uninsured. Hundreds of hands shot up.
“I rest my case,” Clinton said.
To make sure more students can afford college, Hillary Clinton would increase grant and scholarship funding and tie loan repayments to post graduate income.
“She believes that we cannot rebuild the middle class dream unless we make college affordable,” he said.
Bill Clinton allowed that some voters are eager to elect the first woman president this year. But he said that’s not the reason to vote for Hillary Clinton.
“I want you to be for her because she would be the best president,” he said.
Thousands waited hours in a line that snaked around the 3,000-seat auditorium.
ASU sophomore Jeremy Kogan and two friends arrived before 3 p.m. to be first in line.
Kogan of Scottsdale said he doesn’t think Obama is ready yet to be president. He’s already cast an early ballot for Clinton. “She’s the person we need right now. She knows how to get things done in Washington,” he said.
Bill Clinton was viewed by supporters here as an asset, not a liability. He’s drawn fire for caustic comments about Obama.
“Our attitude is with Hillary you get Bill,” said Joe Passov of Phoenix.
Hillary Clinton was in Arizona last week, speaking to about 10,000 people at Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix.
Since then Obama has grabbed key endorsements and drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 12,000 to Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday. He was introduced there by Gov. Janet Napolitano and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.
Bill Clinton last came to ASU days before the 2006 general election, campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates that included Pederson, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2006, and U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell.
Bill and Chelsea Clinton have been touring the country on behalf of Hillary Clinton as the race for the Democratic nomination tightens in the countdown to Super Tuesday. In the closest thing ever to a nationwide primary, about two dozen states will hold party contests with a total of nearly 1,700 delegates at stake.
Hillary Clinton’s latest schedule shows that she’ll make another appearance in Arizona before Tuesday’s primary. Her Saturday swing includes Los Angeles, New Mexico and Arizona, where she’s scheduled to speak at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Also new on the schedule is a national town hall, with the 22 Democratic primary states linked in a live simulcast at 7 p.m. Monday on www.hillaryclinton.com and on cable’s Hallmark Channel.
Hillary Clinton will host the New York town hall, while Bill and Chelsea Clinton and other campaign surrogates will anchor events in the other cities.
The Arizona town hall is expected to be held downtown at the Wyndham Phoenix hotel. Those in attendance, about 50 to 75 people hand-picked by the campaign, can ask live questions. People can submit questions for Clinton in advance at www.hillaryclinton.com/townhall.
In a telephone conference call with Arizona reporters Thursday, former Arizona first lady Hattie Babbitt hailed the nationwide town hall as a way for voters to get their questions answered.
“Voters in my observation have just been hungry not just to listen to the candidates but to be heard by the candidates,” she said. “It’s not exactly like being in the same room, but it’s the next best thing.”
Arizonans will get to pose at least two questions, organizers said, one coming from the website and another from the live audience.