Bill stumps for Hillary in Ohio

Timothy Magaw

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to a crowd of about 650 people at a rally for his wife and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton yesterday afternoon at Cuyahoga Community College, in Highland Hills. PHOTO BY GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones introduces friends and political colleagues before introducing former President Bill Clinton. PHOTO BY GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

CHECK OUT more photos from Clinton’s visit to Highland Hills.

HIGHLAND HILLS – Although dozens of Hillary Clinton supporters held signs calling for her campaign to “turn up the heat,” that’s not what former president Bill Clinton did during yesterday’s stump speech – at least not against Barack Obama.

The former president’s speech at Cuyahoga Community College’s Eastern Campus focused more on the Clinton years of the ’90s and on his wife’s candidacy, not mentioning Obama’s name once.

“I know you want to make history in this election, but I hope you want to build a better future for America in this election,” Clinton said to the crowd of about 650, made up mostly of those older than 30 with clusters of college students mixed in.

Clinton didn’t ignore the fact that he was speaking at a community college, adding that America should work the way community colleges work.

“Everybody can get in,” he said. “There’s a place for everybody without regard to race gender or age or anything else. There is a place for everybody in a community college.

“If you think about how the community college works, that’s the way Hillary thinks America should work where we all go forward together,” Clinton said.

His speech turned quickly to the issues, starting with the economy. The House approved a $146 billion economic stimulus package yesterday that is facing a future vote in the Senate, but Clinton said this will only offer some relief if put into law.

“For most people in Ohio, the economy is already in recession,” Clinton said.

Clinton said this economic downturn is because median incomes have dropped and the cost of living has increased, including the rising prices of health care, gasoline, housing and education.

Another way Clinton said his wife would help the struggling economy would be to provide college students with a $3,500 tax credit during the first two years of college. The former president said his wife also wants to offer a different loan program at low interest rates for college students, who will be able to sign a contract enabling them to pay off the loans with a low percentage subtracted from their income every year.

“That’s her plan and for some reason the current administration doesn’t like it,” Clinton said.

Aside from the cost of higher education, many students in attendance said the war in Iraq is a major issue affecting their decision on which candidate to support.

Jordan Rohe, sophomore business major at Tri-C who served in Iraq with the 4th infantry division of the U.S. Army, said he’s chosen to support Clinton. He fought through the crowd and managed to speak to the former president after the speech.

“I wanted to make sure we didn’t serve for nothing and that we’re being treated with honor and respect,” Rohe said about the handling of veterans upon their return.

Clinton said his wife’s record and service on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee shows her respect for the military. He said his wife wanted the crowd to know she would continue her support for the military if elected president. Iraq war veterans would be supported upon their return unlike many of the Vietnam veterans who are now homeless.

“If she is the president, we will never make that mistake again,” he said. “We will stay by these people.”

Deanthony Cummings, freshman social work major at Tri-C, said he’s still deciding between Obama and Clinton, but is leaning more toward Clinton after the former president’s speech.

“I think because of her age and experience that she would make a good president,” he said. “We’re going to try and give her a chance and see what she can do in the White House.”

Colleen Byers, a recent psychology graduate from Ohio Wesleyan, said she had been supporting Obama but her decision changed when she went to a debate in Washington, D.C.

She said Clinton’s experience was the key factor in her decision.

“As far as our country goes, we really need someone from day one that knows what they’re doing,” Byers said, adding that Obama hasn’t really “gotten his feet wet.”

Bruce Pucci, sophomore computer information systems major at Kent State, attended the speech and said Obama is probably his candidate, but he’s still open to exploring Clinton’s stances on the issues.

“I’m leaning toward Barack for his feel, his charisma,” Pucci said.

Maurizio Sabini, associate professor in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State, also made the trip to Tri-C for the speech. Unlike many of the students in the audience, he’s already made a decision to support Clinton’s candidacy.

“She has the confidence that is needed for the deepest challenges we are facing as a country and the passion to do the job for the American people,” Sabini said.

Contact public affairs reporter Timothy Magaw at [email protected].