Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, paid Clark College a surprise visit on Monday to campaign for his wife and current Democratic frontrunner candidate Hillary Clinton.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee introduced Bill Clinton to an enthusiastic crowd shortly after 6 p.m, an hour later than planned due to rush hour traffic from Portland.
Bill Clinton spoke for about an hour, solidifying why he believes Hillary is “the most qualified person [he’s] ever had the chance to vote for.” He discussed a range of issues, from alternative energy sources to the economy and student debt.
The former president pushed for increasing minimum wage, calling for a raise in awareness about the 2008 financial crisis’ impact on the job market. “So here we are, eight years later,” he said. “We’re beating the historical average in job creation, but we’re still lagging in incomes rising.”
Bringing many cheers and enthusiastic applause from the audience, Bill Clinton addressed Hillary’s plan to get rid of student debt. “We should have a system where every young person can graduate completely debt-free from any public institution of higher education,” he said.
Addressing the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Bill Clinton said Hillary’s plan for environmental preservation includes the modernization of old structures and pipes that are prone to damage, and the use of alternative energy sources. He said Hillary’s goal is to have all homes in the U.S. “completely powered by sustainable energy” by the end of her eight years in office.
Bill Clinton challenged Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s views on immigration, arguing that undocumented immigration peaked more than five years ago and should not be the main concern right now.
Challenging Trump further, Bill Clinton defended Hillary’s position on immigration reform to let people from any country legally immigrate to the U.S. without the fear of being deported. “Immigrants are out there working, paying taxes and doing a good job,” he said.
Bill Clinton praised the diversity of the audience, saying that if he had a rally 30 years ago, “the crowd would look disproportionately like me.”
Vancouver has been one of the hotspots for campaigns and rallies in Washington because of the upcoming Washington Democratic caucuses this Saturday. Just across the street the day before, Democratic rival Bernie Sanders visited Hudson’s Bay High School and was greeted with a boisterous crowd of nearly 7,000 people.
The exact place for the Clinton campaign stop was only announced the day before according to an email sent out to all Clark students by Chief Information and Communication Officer Chato Hazelbaker.
The crowd was relatively small, with 750 packed in Gaiser Student Center where Clinton spoke, and 150 in overflow in PUB 161, according to Special Project and Activities Manager Michelle Golder. Parking wasn’t as much of an issue compared to Sanders’ rally, especially since Clark students were on spring break.
Reporters Josh Brody and JR Bundy also contributed to this story.