Bill Clinton campaigns for wife in Scranton

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Bill Clinton campaigns for wife in Scranton

Photo credit/ Alex Weidner

Photo credit/ Alex Weidner

Photo credit/ Alex Weidner

Connor Moffitt and Alex Weidner

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With less than two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary elections, candidates for the Democratic Party seats are beginning to heighten campaign efforts in the state.

After opening a regional office for Northeast Pennsylvania in downtown Scranton last weekend, the Hillary For America campaign sent President Bill Clinton to town for a rally.

On Thursday, April 7, after a rally in Philadelphia, the former president traveled to Scranton High School for the event at 5 p.m.

The event kicked off with a performance by the Scranton High’s advanced chorus, The Knight Rhythms, and an introduction by Northeast Pennsylvania campaign organizer Alex Butcher-Nesbitt.

According to Butcher-Nesbitt, “the way forward is inspiring future generations.”

“She can’t do it on her own…we need every single one of you,” said Butcher-Nesbitt in his opening speech.

Clinton’s speech followed introductions by Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright, Congressman Matthew Cartwright and Senator Bob Casey.

In his speech, Congressman Cartwright showed his strong support of Hillary Clinton.

“When it comes to keeping our nation strong and well-respected around the world, nobody can do it like Hillary Clinton,” said Cartwright.

Senator Casey spent some of his stage time speaking about President Clinton’s history in the area.

“President Clinton is no stranger to this region,” said Senator Casey. “He’s been here so many times, when he was running for president, when he served as our two-term president and when he campaigned for Secretary Clinton, and he’s back again to help us win on April 26.”

In his speech, President Clinton outlined his wife’s qualifications as a presidential candidate.

“You need somebody who understands how to keep big, bad things from happening overseas and make the most of whatever opportunities come up. She’s the only person who won’t have to have any training for that,” said Clinton, referring to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.

Clinton hit on topics such as jobs, healthcare and affordable schooling during his speech.

“If you want to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, Hillary’s your candidate and the best choice you got,” said Clinton.

“Hillary says we ought to keep going [with the Affordable Care Act] and fix what’s wrong with the current bill, but realize it took us from World War II to 2010 to pass the ACA,” said Clinton during his speech. Clinton blamed the inability to pass an affordable healthcare bill sooner on a lack of supporting Republican votes in Congress.

Secretary Clinton wants “to spend more money making sure that how well you do in school doesn’t depend on your zip code,” said the former president.

“Free tuition for those who need it. More help for those who need more help . . . let upper income people pay their kids tuition,” said Clinton of his wife’s education plan. “It is the only proposal made by anybody in any party to help hold the cost of college down.”

Around 500 people attended the rally. Wilkes-Barre Councilwoman Beth Gilbert was among those in attendance.

“I’m just excited to hear Bill speak more than anything,” said Gilbert. “I think that Scranton and Wilkes Barre specifically have a huge role in the Democratic primary, this is such a heavily Democratic area and it can really be a key area for anybody who’s running in the presidential election.”

Along with the many supporters of the Clinton campaign were a few dissenters. High school student Noah O’Donnell of Clarks Summit was among the group.

“I am here to present the opposition to Hillary in more of like an anti-government just in general stance, not necessarily supporting any other candidate,” said O’Donnell.

When asked why he and the other non-supporters were at the event, O’Donnell said that they were there to strike conversation.

“Just that it’s cool to show a difference in political opinions and kind of catch the eyes of people so that we can talk to them about just about anything,” said O’Donnell of his reasons for attending.

Clinton ended his speech with final words of support for his wife: “But the best thing you got to know is from the time I met her 45 years ago, last month, until she left the house today to go campaign, she is the best single change-maker I’ve ever known. She always makes something good happen. There’s a difference in talking and doing, vote for the doer.”

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