In Durham, former president touts wife Hillary Clintons experience

Bill Clinton, Americas 42nd president, campaigns for Democratic nominee

DURHAM — Former president Bill Clinton came to Durham Tuesday to campaign for the Democratic presidential nominee, former secretary of state, senator and first lady — his wife, Hillary Clinton.The Clinton campaign’s press release ahead of the 42nd president’s speech at the Community Family Life & Recreation Center at Lyon Park said he would discuss voter registration and early voting. Instead, the former president’s speech — ad-libbed with the exception of his opening remarks thanking his hosts and introductory speakers — focused mostly on Hillary Clinton’s aforementioned credentials, including her work on children’s issues, and contrasted them with her opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump.”Real life is hard work. Real change is hard work,” Bill Clinton said after meeting with some of the children who attend the community center. “But you look into the eyes of these children and it’s worth it.”Bill Clinton scorned Trump for not being willing to truly put in the necessary hard work and simply wanting to “Make America Great Again,” saying the New York billionaire was looking to the past instead of the future. And he said the future was dependent on “America’s greatest asset … our youth and diversity.”The former president hammered home the differences in the two campaigns, balking at Trump’s criticism of The Clinton Foundation — the couple’s nonprofit organization — while needling his wife’s opponent about a rumored payoff to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi when Trump University was under investigation in the state.Bill Clinton said Hillary Clinton’s plan — to invest in infrastructure, including cleaning up water supplies to avoid another disaster like the one in Flint, Mich.; increase bank lending to small businesses; promote fair trade and manufacturing; and make businesses who move their headquarters or jobs overseas financially accountable — would kickstart the economy.”Ten years from now people will look back at [President Barack] Obama and give him more credit than they do today,” Bill Clinton said. But he also offered “what the nation needs is faster, more fairly shared growth. … We cannot go on eight more years where 90 percent of the earnings go to 1 percent of the people.”Bill Clinton, 70, was introduced by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Butterfield told the 700-plus people packed in the steamy community center gym it was essential to continue Obama’s polices and build upon them, saying Trump was “too reckless and erratic” to run the world’s largest economy.”This election is the most important, the most consequential of our lifetime,” Butterfield said.North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall introduced Bill Clinton, comparing her win in the 1996 election to Hillary Clinton’s chances in November. Marshall became the first woman in state history to win an elected statewide executive office 20 years ago, defeating famous NASCAR driver — and political neophyte — Richard Petty. Petty introduced Clinton’s rival, Republican nominee Donald Trump, later that night at a speech in Greenville.”I was just a lowly state senator who didn’t have the same recognition [as Petty],” Marshall said.Marshall said the state rallied behind her ideas and saw beyond Petty’s fame to give her an eight-point win. She said Hillary Clinton’s education, experience and temperament make her, like Marshall in 1996, much more qualified for office than someone without a political background.Durham Mayor Bill Bell also recalled when he won his first race — with the help of Bill Clinton, who made phone calls to voters the day of the election that Bell said might have tipped the 500-vote decision in Bell’s favor in 2001.Bell echoed Obama by calling Hillary Clinton the most qualified candidate in recent memory and said she would hit the ground running as president.”This is exactly the kind of person we need,” Bell said. “… [and] her election will make our friend Bill Clinton the first, first gentleman.”