Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Saginaw, Flint

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Former President Bill Clinton spoke at a campaign stop at the Dow Event Center in Downtown Saginaw on Monday, October 3.

The event, organized to raise support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, was open to the public.
After speaking in Saginaw, Bill Clinton traveled to Flint for his next campaign event.

Once he took the stage, Bill Clinton wasted no time in contrasting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both in policy position and personality.

Bill Clinton’s speech mostly focused on economic issues, painting a hopeful picture for Michiganders and American workers under a Hillary Clinton administration.

He tied Hillary Clinton’s education plan into the economy, saying that college needs to be made more affordable in order to provide an economic future for young Americans.

“The most remarkable thing that happened at the Democratic convention was that Bernie Sanders and Hillary agreed on a common education and training plan,” he said.

Bill Clinton borrowed some of Sanders’ populist rhetoric when advocating for economic reforms, hitting American corporations that ship jobs overseas in order to bust unions and reward stockholders. He talked about the need for an economy that works for everyone, not just the financial sector, saying, “we need to make sure the finance tail doesn’t wag the economic dog.”

Bill Clinton also connected immigration to the economy, calling Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants an “economic disaster.”

Bill Clinton’s speech was preceded by a program of speakers that included Pamela Pugh and John Austin of the Michigan State Board of Education and Michigan State Representative Vanessa Guerra.

Congressman Dan Kildee also spoke briefly before introducing Bill Clinton to the crowd.

Pugh began her speech by focusing on Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments, as well as the importance of voter registration to the campaign’s efforts. She also implored those present to pay attention to down-ballot candidates, asking those present to “push with the same intensity and enthusiasm as you did in 2008 and 2012.”

Austin talked about the importance of public education in Michigan, continuing the theme of asking voters to pay attention to down-ballot races to keep the State Board of Education in Democratic hands and help flip the state legislature from Republican control.

Guerra also laid heavy emphasis on voting efforts and support of fellow Democrats who will appear on November’s ballot.

“We need you to vote for Democrats from the top of your ballot to the bottom,” she said. “Our local election matter, and our state elections matter.”

After a break, Kildee took the stage and fired up the crowd.

He talked about how being from Flint showed him that elections have consequences, alluding to the ongoing water crisis. He then talked up Bill Clinton’s economic record as president before introducing him.

Before doors opened, the atmosphere outside the venue was festive. Volunteers led pep-rally type chants, and one attendee donned a giant papier-mâché caricature of Donald Trump’s head he had made while holding a banner lampooning the Republican nominee.

Several hundred people showed up and packed into the Dow Event Center’s atrium, creating an intimate atmosphere for attendees once the speakers began. The crowd was a friendly one, and included local Democratic Party volunteers and activists as well as Hillary Clinton supporters.

The venue’s small size and relatively small crowd in attendance, as well as Bill Clinton’s willingness to take some time after his speech to shake hands and talk with supporters, made for a unique and warm experience for many of those who attended.

“I think that anybody who supports the party and has someone that was a leader of an administration coming, it’s a big deal,” said Michael Flores, a junior at SVSU and volunteer with the state Democratic Party.