Former President Bill Clinton was in Chicago Tuesday to continue his non-stop crusade speaking to Illinois residents on the importance of wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as the best choice for president in 2016.
As he swept through town, President Clinton’s first stop was at MacArthur’s Restaurant on Chicago’s West Side, where he greeted the Black community and public officials, including Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL 5th District).
In pure “rock star” style, the 69-year-old Hope, Arkansas native, took selfies with people, shook hands, and checked out the breakfast menu at the notable soul food establishment.
In a stark contrast of neighboring communities and economic status, Clinton then traveled 22 miles north to Evanston to address Hillary Clinton supporters there at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue.
It sits less than one mile from Northwestern University and happens to be the home synagogue of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th District).
As the line to greet the president wrapped around the building, attendees patiently filed into the social hall as the sounds of R&B and soul classics blasted from speakers outside.
Evanston’s population is approximately 76,000, with 66 percent
white residents, 18 percent African American, and 9 percent Hispanics. The make up of the waiting audience reflected that.
As the crowd of more than 300 filled the hall awaiting Clinton’s arrival, the Mayor of Evanston, Elizabeth Tisdahl, spoke, followed by Northwestern student Kevin Chang. A senior, Chang is also President of Northwestern’s Student for Hillary group. He expressed his gratitude for Mrs. Clinton’s advocacy for the LGBT community’s equal rights.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky pumped up the crowd by reminding them that Hillary grew up only eight miles away in the northern suburb of Park Ridge.
“Hillary has not only built the broadest and most diverse coalition, but she has a broad, progressive diverse agenda,” Schakowsky said. “The kind of agenda we love here on the North Side and the North Shore. We can count on Hillary.
“As much as I genuinely love and respect Bernie Sanders, and I’m serious about that,” Schakowsky continued, “he did vote five times against the Brady Bill and consistently voted to protect gun manufacturers from liability. That’s just bad. No one, Republican or Democrat, can come close to Hillary Clinton when it comes to dealing with our international allies or adversaries.”
As she prepared to introduce President Bill Clinton, Schakowsky reminded attendees of his work during his time in office. She mentioned the millions of jobs created during his presidency; the lowest unemployment in history; banning assault weapons; and Clinton’s mission to raise taxes on the wealthy.
As he made his way onto the stage, Clinton received an enthusiastic and deafening applause from the standing room only audience.
As Clinton spoke, he held the attention of the crowd – a crowd that was mixed with middle-class, white- and blue-collar workers, stay-at-home moms, educators, college students and retirees. They all took some time out of their schedule to hear what he had to say.
For the next 50 minutes, Clinton covered some of the hot topics of discussion that his wife has worked on in the past or seeks to work on in the future.
That includes immigration reform, student loan debt, increased job creation, higher wages for workers, outsourcing jobs beyond the states, and the environmental crisis in Flint, Michigan.
President Clinton said, “This problem in Flint has touched everyone, including Hillary, who really tried to hard to do something. This is why the Mayor of Flint has endorsed her. It’s nowhere near the only place in America where children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Think what would happen if we cleaned up all of the pipes and gave all of our children a healthy future.”
Bill Remembers Hillary
Despite, the Clintons’ very public marriage over the years, nothing was more evident than the president’s solidarity behind his wife’s experience.
“I met her 45 years ago this month,” Clinton recalled. “I was just blown away – I have never seen someone who had a better sense of where we were at the time, what we we’re trying to do and how to get it done.”
He explained how their courtship began as college students and now both are expecting their second grandchild from daughter Chelsea and her husband Marc Mezvinsky.
President Clinton’s speech gave voters a peek into Hillary Clinton’s earlier days. He shined light on her elevated intelligence and bureaucratic savviness she displayed in assisting him with then Republican House Majority Whip Tom DeLay.
In her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton noted that his wife was also diligent in acquiring proper medical care for Iraqi war veterans.
The President recalled Hillary traveling down South earlier in her law career advocating for integration. “She went to Alabama, where there were segregationist academies illegally claiming federal tax credits at prime sub schools,” Clinton’s story began.
“She posed as a racist housewife and moseyed into the school. She said that her husband was transferred down there and she was looking for a school for her son. She said, ‘Let’s cut to the chase, is my boy going to be in a white school?’ The guy said, ‘Yes.’ She got him and they lost their tax exemption!”
Clinton also mentioned to the Evanston crowd that he did not take his travel to the West Side lightly as he visited MacArthur’s restaurant. The President said, “Two-thirds of the jobs in this country have come from small business. I drove from the West Side of Chicago to get here.”
He then referred to Hillary Clinton’s stance on economic development. “She said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this,’” Clinton said.
“When I had the honor of serving, we more than doubled small business loans from the SBA to minorities and it tripled for women. We had this explosive growth in the economy driven by small business.”
Hours after his departure, the Hillary for Illinois campaign opened another Chicago satellite office at 5811 West Chicago Avenue, leaving the Clinton footprint even more solidly on the predominately African-American community.
Coming off of Sunday night’s Democratic primary debate, it is apparent that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have deep ties to the Chicago region. There is no question that they are speaking to similar demographics that share almost mirrored experiences throughout the state of Illinois.
This latest visit by President Bill Clinton is a telltale of how crucial every vote and every handshake is in securing a solid win for Hillary Clinton.