Clinton visits Ky. for wife’s campaign

By Juliann Vachon

FRANKFORT — Former President Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, in Frankfort yesterday morning, speaking to a crowd of more than 3,000 on topics of the economy, energy policy, the war in Iraq, health care and education.

Clinton stood in front of a large American flag as he talked for almost an hour about the policies that make his wife “the best candidate I’ve ever had the opportunity to support.”

Among Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top priorities are rebuilding the middle class, restoring fiscal responsibility in the U.S., pulling troops out of Iraq and ensuring affordable health care for everyone, Bill Clinton said, and her work is rooted in commitment to changing people’s lives for the better.

“She’s the single best change maker I ever saw in other people’s lives,” he said.

During his first of four stops in Kentucky, Clinton also focused on the challenges facing college students. Every American deserves to go to college, Clinton said, and his wife would make changes to help all students get at least two years of higher education. He said her plan includes supporting training and apprenticeship programs, more than doubling the tuition tax credit to $3,500 for students, raising the Pell Grant every year to keep up with inflation, making more money available through Americore community service jobs and cracking down on abuses of private student loan companies.

Clinton spoke of Sen. Clinton’s Student Borrowers Bill of Rights, which allows college graduates to change the repayment terms of student loans and fix annual payments at a certain low percentage of their income.

“Now the practical impact of this is that nobody, but nobody, in the entire United States will ever have to drop out of college again because they’re afraid they can’t borrow $10,000 or $20,000,” Clinton said.

UK psychology freshman Gordan Simic attended the rally and said he admires Clinton’s focus on keeping student loan interest rates low.

The former president’s speech probably swayed a few independents and Republicans to the Clinton ship, he said.

Clinton explained in detail Sen. Clinton’s plan for energy independence. She is committed to reducing global warming and creating jobs by investing in alternative fuels research and development, including clean coal technology, he said.

Former President Clinton also worked to convince the crowd why Sen. Clinton’s plans to immediately get American troops out of Iraq is better than Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain’s plan to stay in Iraq as long as necessary. Her plan would leave a small group of U.S. Army Special Forces in the region while also offering American aid to stabilize Iraq.

Another key issue among voters is health care. Clinton said his wife’s plan allows people who are happy with their health care plans to keep them while those who are not covered or are unhappy can opt into one of the plans offered to members of Congress or into public plans, such as Medicaid.

“You cannot solve the cost problem unless you do the morally right thing and cover everyone,” Clinton said.

Some students at the rally from Centre College and Kentucky State University said that while they did not support Sen. Clinton, they came to the rally to hear the opposing side.

Millicent Tennell, a political science junior at KSU, said she did not consider Sen. Clinton a good candidate. Tennell described herself as a “hardcore” Sen. Barack Obama supporter based on his charisma and ability to evoke a movement among young people.

“I think Barack Obama is a better man for the job,” she said. “However this is history, and she would be the first woman. I am African-American, and I am a woman, so I have common-hoods with both of the candidates.”

Tennell’s friend and fellow KSU student Jessica Phillips, however, said she supports Sen. Clinton because of her commitment to the prospect of change and said students are ready to move beyond many of the Bush administration’s policies.

“I just really wanted to come out and see what future president Clinton had to stand for,” Phillips said. “We’ve seen what the Bush administration has done, and we’re none too pleased about it.

“We’re just excited to see what the candidates now have for us.”