Bill Clinton rallies for wife at gym
By Lia Grigg
Published on Tuesday, January 8, 2008
In support of his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., former President Bill Clinton spoke on issues of universal healthcare, education reform and climate control as he emphasized Hillary's capability and personal character at a speech Monday evening at Almnui Gym.
"I would be here for Hillary tonight even if we had not been married," Clinton said. Later, he added, "I think your future will be in better hands if she gets elected president."
Clinton began his speech with mention of his own presidency, and, while he quickly changed his focus to Hillary's campaign platform, he repeated the phrase, "when I was President" throughout the night.
Responding to the references to his presidency, audience members asked Clinton about the role he would play in Hillary's administration.
"Any president incurs a lifetime obligation to serve the country," he replied. "It is not lawful for family members to be appointed to any position in the cabinet. If I were asked to do something specific, I'd be happy to do it."
Clinton commended Hillary's plan for universal healthcare coverage, and, alluding to her unsuccessful attempts at healthcare reform as First Lady, said there is now support in the business and medical communities for healthcare reform that didn't exist then.
"You need to know what a president is going to do in the face of failure," Clinton said, referring to Hillary's work to provide healthcare to six million children following the 1994 collapse of her healthcare plan.
Supporting Hillary's plans for higher education reform, Clinton said that the federal government must support increased grants and lower interest on loans for college students. The largely student-filled audience applauded loudly in support.
Clinton cited Hillary's experience as an elected official and emphasized her active public service, such as her work as a lawyer with the Children's Defense Fund in Massachusetts.
He said that Hillary has been the most bitterly targeted of the Democratic candidates in the primary race, but added that he always believed she would have a hard time winning the primary and an easy time winning the general election.
Clinton said Hillary is the most electable in a general election of the Democratic candidates because of the respect she has garnered in the Senate from both sides of the aisle. He later told the crowd that he wished voters "knew her as a whole person, not just a two-dimensional cartoon."
Clinton discussed the need to redirect tax cuts, and restore the United States' standing in the world as well as its lead in technology and science.
He also emphasized the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He spoke of his desire for sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans and the need to decrease the production cost of hybrid cars.
While his speech focused on support for Hillary, Clinton continually voiced frustration about the favored treatment he believes Obama receives from the press. He pointed out that in 15 Democratic debates, Obama was never questioned about a 2004 statement that "he did not know how he would have voted" on the 2002 resolution that allowed military action in Iraq.
For at least one audience member, Clinton's appeals on Hillary's behalf proved persuasive.
"I came to hear Bill, but he made a very convincing argument," Jake Routhier '10 said. "I was leaning towards Obama before, but now Hillary."
Before leaving Dartmouth, Clinton made a surprise appearance in Thayer Dining Hall, where he greeted students and Dartmouth Dining Service staff.