Former President Bill Clinton stresses Hillary Clinton’s record fighting for equality at Evanston campaign event


Zack Laurence/The Daily Northwestern

Bill Clinton speaks at the Beth Emet Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St., at a campaign event for his wife Hillary Clinton. The Illinois primary will take place on March 15.

Marissa Page, City Editor

Former President Bill Clinton spoke in Evanston on Tuesday morning about social and economic inequality to campaign for his wife Hillary Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, a week ahead of the Illinois primary on March 15.

Bill Clinton’s speech began just after 11 a.m. at Beth Emet Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St., and was attended by about 750 local residents and Northwestern students. He spoke primarily about Hillary Clinton’s political record regarding the economy, gun control and social equality.

“She’s running for president so we can all rise together,” he said. “She knows we can’t do it unless we have inclusive economics, inclusive social policies, an inclusive national security policy and inclusive politics.”

In front of many college students, Bill Clinton talked extensively about his wife’s college tuition plans, criticizing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) proposals to make college free to all Americans.

“If all we do is subsidize tuition, it will just lead to inflation in tuition costs because all over the country we’ve got all these Republican governors and Republican legislators who are all (trying) to cut back on colleges,” he said. “(Hillary Clinton) says, ‘Look, pay everybody’s tuition that needs it … and ask people who can afford to pay it to do it.’”

According to a Chicago Tribune poll this month, Hillary Clinton leads among Democratic primary voters at 67 percent, with Sanders trailing behind at 25 percent. Republican candidate Donald Trump is leading among Republican candidates with 28 percent, according to a February poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Bill Clinton also talked about his wife’s background as a former secretary of state, senator from New York and as the first lady. He focused on her work in legal aid and educational advocacy for children and young adults.

The former president shared personal stories of Hillary Clinton’s work in the South advocating for minors to receive fair legal representation and equal educational opportunities.

“I had never heard some of those stories that he told about Hillary Clinton which really documents in such a moving and personal way her life of service,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who introduced Bill Clinton, told The Daily. “I can’t imagine how people wouldn’t trust a woman who has been totally consistent in her fights for justice for families from day one.”

Bill Clinton’s remarks were also preceded with brief speeches by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Weinberg senior Kevin Cheng, who is the co-founder and co-president of Northwestern Students for Hillary.

Cheng addressed the media portrayal of young people as more likely to support Sanders, saying that in his experience more informed young Democrats tended to lean toward Hillary Clinton.

“In my experience, when my peers do their research and look at the full record of Secretary Clinton’s accomplishments, many of them decide that she is the best prepared to fight for them,” he said.

In her introduction, Tisdahl spoke largely about Hillary Clinton’s push for widespread gun control. She discussed gun violence in Evanston, sharing a personal story of her encounter with a young boy who Tisdahl said was “too scared to play outside” after a homicide had occurred on his street.

“There are too many guns on our streets,” Tisdahl said. “We need Hillary Clinton.”

Tisdahl and Schakowsky stressed Sanders’ record with gun control, emphasizing the senator voted five times against the Brady Bill, which mandates federal background checks on firearms purchases.

Cheng and Schakowsky also discussed Hillary Clinton’s social policies, namely her support of gay rights and women’s rights.

“I could not be more ready to have a pro-women woman president,” Schakowsky said. “She also referred to Hillary Clinton as the ‘most qualified candidate since George Washington.’”

Bill Clinton referred to Schakowsky’s remarks in his speech, saying although it would be “a great thing” to have a first woman president, residents should vote for Hillary Clinton because she is “the best change maker I have ever known.”

“The most important reason to vote for her is that we cannot wait any longer,” he said. “Finally we can rise together.”

Tyler Pager contributed reporting.

Twitter: @marissahpage