Bill Clinton campaigns in Homewood

By Macey Zaffina / For The Pitt News

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On a stage in Homewood, surrounded by union workers and community members, Bill Clinton declared that Hillary Clinton knows how to bring Americans together.

“If we’re not willing to live together and work together, we’re not going to grow faster and grow fairer,” Clinton said. “Hillary’s slogan ‘Stronger Together’ is about more than a campaign slogan.”

At the Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum in the Homewood North neighborhood, Clinton spoke to the crowd about student loan debt, Wall Street reform and the economy. The rally, hosted by Pennsylvania Democrats, began at 11:45 a.m. on Friday. With 32 days until the voter registration deadline, Clinton encouraged the crowd to register to vote and to show up at the polls in November.

The crowd included about 725 people, according to an aide for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The campaign event came only four days after Vice President Joe Biden and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine ––  Hillary Clinton’s running mate ––  campaigned at Pittsburgh’s Labor Day Parade.

This event was Clinton’s second in Pittsburgh in recent months. On April 20, less than a week before the Pennsylvania primary election, he spoke on Pitt-Johnstown’s campus and in South Side, encouraging Pennsylvania voters to turn out and support Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the primary.

Attendees filled the community hall, most of them standing in front of the circular stage as campaign staffers wove through the crowd urging people to become more involved. The crowded hall heard from U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. and U.S. Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Pa., before the former president began his speech, 35 minutes after the rally kicked off. Cheers of “Hillary” met Clinton’s entrance onto the stage.

Not everyone approved of the event, however. Several protesters stood outside the rally holding signs that read, “Corrupt Hillary.”

The Arkansas native spoke in his typical colloquial style, garnering laughs and applause throughout his speech. Clinton talked of his younger years spent on a farm with no indoor plumbing.

“I promise you, in the wintertime, the outhouse is overrated,” he said.

On a more serious note, Clinton said his wife is the only candidate that has a plan to address the burden on America’s young adults. This plan includes allowing students to refinance accumulated student debt as well as giving students access to debt-free or even tuition-free college.

Clinton’s speech related not only to college students, but to those entering the workforce as well. He emphasized infrastructure programs and opportunities for college-educated workers as well as those who do not have four year degrees.

“They’re going, begging because there are no high-quality training programs,” Clinton said of employers who hire workers without a four-year degree. “[Hillary Clinton] wants us to invest in labor union training programs.”

Clinton also addressed his wife’s Republican opponent, presidential candidate Donald Trump, though he never mentioned Trump by name. Instead, Clinton made insinuations to the crowd about his own interpretation of Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”  

“Folks, I’m a white Southerner,” Clinton said. “I know exactly what that means.”

Anne Marie Degeorge, 55, of O’Hara Township said she admires the Clintons but worries about Trump’s ability to use the media to his own advantage.

“Trump is very skilled at utilizing the media,” Degeorge said. “[Hillary Clinton] needs to focus on positive media.”

According to Bill Clinton, Trump divides America. He said Hillary’s campaign, on the other hand, values “working together, instead of building walls.”

Not everyone was satisfied with the range of topics Clinton addressed in his speech. Regent Square resident Pat Schuetz, 69, said Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was one topic she had hoped Bill Clinton would address.

In March 2015, it became publicly known that Hillary Clinton had used her personal email account and server for official government correspondence, potentially including classified conversations. In July, the Justice Department decided not to press charges against the presidential candidate, aligning with the recommendation of FBI Director James Comey.

“Put that whole mess to rest,” Schuetz said.

Hillary Clinton has also been criticized on both sides of the political aisle for aligning herself too closely with Wall Street. Her husband did not shy away from that topic. He stressed that Hillary Clinton is both pro-business as well as pro-labor. He urged corporations to share their profits with the employees that support them and facilitate union worker training.

“We know that people that take care of their employees and take care of their communities make more money,” Clinton said.

Clinton delivered a message of unity from his wife to the crowd.

“We really are stronger together,” he said. “So if [Hillary Clinton] wins, she’s going to fight for you too.”

He left the people of Homewood with a hopeful message for this election year, should Hillary Clinton win the race.

“Empowerment comes from being stronger together,” Clinton said. “We can do it.”      

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