Former President Bill Clinton told several hundred people at a stop Thursday in Kentucky’s Capital City that his wife is in “the future business” and does not want America to be stuck in the past, as some other presidential candidates aspire.
The reference was a swipe at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again.”
Clinton, the 42nd U.S. president, barnstormed the state Thursday for the Democratic presidential campaign of his wife, Hillary Clinton. He especially urged Democratic voters to go to to the polls Tuesday and vote in her primary contest against U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The former president said the numbers “look good” for Hillary Clinton in Kentucky, a state the campaign hopes will end a recent winning streak for Sanders.
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Hillary Clinton campaigned Tuesday in Lexington and Louisville, and might be back in Kentucky before the primary election. Sanders campaigned in Lexington and Louisville last week and will make stops in Bowling Green Saturday evening and Paducah Sunday morning.
Thursday marked Bill Clinton’s second trip to Kentucky this month. His speaking schedule had him in Owensboro, Frankfort and Prestonsburg. He also made an unscheduled trip late in the afternoon to Thursday Night Live in downtown Lexington to meet and greet people before heading to Eastern Kentucky.
People massed around him for handshakes and selfies as he made his way through the crowd at the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Cheapside Park.
Among them was Matt Jones, founder of Kentucky Sports Radio, who contemplated running for Congress this year.
“He was the first president I remember,” Jones said.
In a 38-minute speech at Frankfort’s Capital Plaza Hotel Thursday afternoon, Bill Clinton said Kentucky’s race for governor last year illustrates what can happen when Democrats don’t vote in large numbers.
Without mentioning Republican Gov. Matt Bevin by name, he said Kentuckians elected a governor who has been hard on health care and education.
He was referring to Bevin’s plan to replace a health insurance exchange started by former Gov. Steve Beshear with a federal program and cuts in state funding to universities.
Tres Watson, a spokesman for the Kentucky Republican Party, responded by saying “Kentuckians elected Matt Bevin to get our fiscal house in order and clean up a half century of Democratic party corruption in Frankfort.”
“Kentuckians know a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for four more years of job losses and out of control spending,” Watson said.
Clinton offered three reasons why his wife, a former U.S. secretary of state and U.S. senator from New York, should be this country’s next president.
He said she has the best ideas “to advance social mobility,” seeks a national infrastructure-building program and wants to create more manufacturing jobs.
To make life better in America, he said, Hillary Clinton will give companies a 15 percent tax credit for sharing their profits with employees.
He also pledged that she will help college student refinance their loans, provide $23,500 tax-free to defray the debt of college for students who go into public service, and make college debt similar to home mortgages that can be paid over 20 years.
To fight the nation’s heroin and prescription drug epidemic, Clinton said his wife supports a $10 billion program to provide more drug courts across the nation and more treatment beds for addicts.
Clinton recalled the late U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford of Owensboro as a leader who “treated people with respect and knew we had to do something.”
The former president said he sometimes feels bad for Republicans who like to tout that they have done nothing in government. In contrast, he said his wife has an aggressive agenda to use government to improve the lives of all Americans.
Clinton was introduced in Frankfort by Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a family friend, after brief speeches by state Sen. Julian Carroll of Frankfort, former Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, state Rep. Derrick Graham of Frankfort and Henry County Democratic Party chair Jim Pollard.
In the last days before the Kentucky Democratic primary, key Hillary Clinton supporters will help to get out the vote in the state, her campaign said Thursday.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Hakeem Jeffries and Joe Crowley of New York and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas will join canvass kickoffs, phone banks and other activities to urge Kentuckians to support Clinton in Tuesday’s primary.