Former President Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, visited the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers' building in the South Side yesterday. He delivered a message dedicated to optimism and opportunity.
“I look around [Allegheny County] and wherever people are working together, good things are happening,” Clinton told the crowd. “We ought to be optimistic about our economy, we are outpacing every other country.”
The country’s 42nd president spoke about health care, education, college loans and inequality in his stump speech to the crowd of more than 150.
Clinton showed an understanding of the Keystone State that seemed to be lacking among other candidates who recently visited Pittsburgh, particularly Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (When Trump visited, he spoke about former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, but it was unclear if Trump realized that the coach had died in 2012.) Clinton praised a good health-care initiative happening in eastern Pennsylvania and acknowledged that it is sometimes “hazardous in Western PA to brag about things from Eastern PA.” Before stopping at the South Side, Clinton took a tour with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald through the neighborhoods of Homestead, Squirrel Hill and Greenfield.
On the topic of college loans and student debt, Clinton referenced Hillary’s plan to allow students to refinance their loans and said that it has been a “scam” that they have not been allowed to do so already. He also directed some criticism toward Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sander’s plan for free tuition at public universities.
“I think free tuition is not as easy as it sounds, since one-third of the money has to come from the states,” said Clinton. “What are the odds at getting Harrisburg to do that?”
Clinton related an anecdote which spoke to Hillary’s ability as a deal-maker: When First Lady, Hillary convinced Bill Clinton’s biggest opponent, former Republican House Rep. Tom DeLay, to work with her on a plan to address the issue of children aging out of foster care with little-to-no subsequent services. It is this deal-making ability, Clinton told the crowd in Pittsburgh, that is needed in the White House.
“She should be president because she has the longest record of actually doing things,” said Clinton. “She is the single best change-maker I have ever known.”
Mike Crossey, former president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, praised the former U.S. president’s address and called it absolutely phenomenal.
“He articulated the needs of the country very well and how Hillary can fulfill them,” he said.
Hillary Clinton is planning to visit Pittsburgh tomorrow, April 22, but no details have been released. The Pennsylvania state primary elections are on Tue., April 26.