Clinton talks up Obama at Owens eventWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
With a strain in his voice and several more campaign stops to make this week, former President Bill Clinton rallied for Barack Obama at Owens Community College in Perrysburg on Nov. 1.
After an introduction by State Rep. Matt Szollosi, Clinton said to the group of 1,950 people, “This is the perfect venue for an Obama campaign event. I mean, community colleges work the way America ought to work. You got people from all kinds of backgrounds,” he said.
Clinton started his day in Wisconsin and planned to travel to Florida on Nov. 2. At one point, he said, “I’m honored to be here in Pennsylvania,” grinning sheepishly after realizing his mistake and adding that he had a line later in the speech about the other state.
He still seemed to have a rapport with the audience — at one point, conversing with them from the podium to make sure a crowd member who was having health issues got help — and played up Ohio’s importance in the election.
The Buckeye State has one of the best distributions of midsized cities, rural areas and small towns and is growing in diversity, he said.
“It really is a microcosm of where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going,” Clinton said.
Clinton also stressed the economy would take longer than four years to rebound from the Great Recession. Financial experts told him these crises usually take 10 years to recover from, he said.
The former president criticized Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney’s comments on how Obama has failed to improve the economy.
“Nearest I can say, here is the Romney argument: ‘We left him (Obama) a mess. He didn’t fix it. Fire him; put us back in.’ What are you gonna do? ‘What we did before. Cut taxes for upper-income people and tell you about the details after the election, but don’t worry, because hey, I’m a business guy. I look like a president; I act like a president and people will be so elated when I am president that the economy will produce 12 million new jobs in the next four years,’” Clinton said.
He noted that a business forecaster had said earlier that 12 million new jobs would be created in the next four years — but because of effects from Obama’s policies.
“[Romney’s] argument is, ‘You must be disappointed, so put me in so I can claim credit for these jobs I had nothing to do with,’” Clinton said.
Clinton also criticized Romney for the recent ad claiming Jeep is moving jobs to China. Instead of pulling the ads after Jeep said they were false, Romney put more money into them, Clinton said.
“That should be all you need to know,” Clinton said.
Chris Maloney, spokesperson for Romney for President in Ohio, said in a statement: “President Obama can’t run from the facts. As a result of his handling of the auto bailout, American taxpayers stand to lose $25 billion and GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas.”
Clinton praised many of Obama’s policies, from energy to health care to his handling of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath to student loans.
Of the revamped student loan program, he said: “This is the most important thing that President Obama did and that Congress did that nearly no Americans know about. They revolutionized the student loan program.”
With the changes, students next year can get a low fixed-percent interest rate, he said.
Also, because of Obama’s health care bill, young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, Clinton said.
“So what’s happened since this ‘terrible’ Obamacare passed?” Clinton asked, sarcastically.
“For the first time in 50 years, health care inflation has been held at 4 percent for two years in a row, half of what it was in the previous decade. You want to solve the federal debt problem, you get health care costs down to the rate of inflation and our budget problems will be solved,” he said.
Obama also ended the war in Iraq and makes sure to take care of veterans when they return home, Clinton said.
In addition, Clinton said Obama “has put together a great national security team, including the security of state (Clinton’s wife, Hillary).”
Clinton also said he supports Obama’s plan of asking wealthier Americans to pay more taxes, similar to Clinton’s own policies.
“It wasn’t bad, trust me. There were a lot of millionaires and billionaires when I was president. It’s just that all the rest of you had your incomes going up, too,” he said.
Amy Foster, a junior at Owens Community College in Findlay, said it was her first campaign event.
“It was awesome. [Clinton was] very down to earth. He came around, shook everybody’s hand, hugged everybody,” she said.
Foster added, “He was very good at showing the differences between the campaigns of Romney and Obama.”
Brian Sims, who works at Jeep, also called Clinton “down to earth.”
Sims also attended the Obama rally on Labor Day at Scott High School and has seen Clinton before.
“If it weren’t for Obama, I wouldn’t have a job,” he said, adding that if Romney were elected, “My career would go under.”
Wilbert Wilson, a businessman from the Washington, D.C. area, was in town to help a family member working on the campaign. He has also been to campaign events before.
“[Clinton’s] one of the smartest men I’ve ever seen. I was moved by him. I’m always mesmerized,” he said.
“My fear is I think the election might stolen here in Ohio,” Wilson said, adding that he is worried about how the election is being run here.
“My prediction is Obama will be elected. I’m not so sure that he will win Ohio,” Wilson said.