Bill Clinton stumps in Omaha

Bill Clinton stumps in Omaha Friday afternoon. (Photo by Robyn Murray for NET News)
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March 4, 2016 - 5:01pm

President Bill Clinton stopped by Omaha to stump for his wife Hillary Clinton Friday.  The visit comes one day before Nebraska's Democratic caucuses.


Clinton picked a hip spot to appeal to Omaha’s Democratic crowd: The Waiting Room, a concert venue in Benson, a neighborhood that draws loads of young people to its bars and lounges. In a speech that sounded a positive note about the direction of the country, Clinton went straight for that youthful demographic.

“We are the best positioned country for the future because we’re younger and more diverse than any other country,” he said. “Look at this crowd in Omaha. If I’d given this speech here 40 years ago, most of the crowd would look like me: old, gray-haired white guys in suits.”

“I’m glad looking out here,” he added, “my demographic has not been entirely eliminated.”

It hasn’t. People of all ages made up the 400 or so who packed into the venue. Evelyn Solonynka, a Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer in her 60s, waited in a line that snaked around the block, and said she was inspired to knock on doors for the campaign because she doesn’t like what she’s hearing of the country’s political tone. “Frankly, I think a woman would be a nice calming influence over some of the things that are going on,” she said. “I just don’t see Hillary stooping to the level that some of our politicians are stooping to.”

Clinton’s primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, has siphoned significant support among young people nationwide, but her share of youthful supporters showed up. Heather Williams, a young social worker from Omaha and her husband, Michael, a graphic designer said they are fully behind her. “I like Bernie Sanders,” Michael Williams said, “I like a lot of his ideas, I just think Hillary has a certain level of experience that can carry a lot of President Obama’s policies forward.”

Much as Hillary has done in her campaign, Bill Clinton praised President Obama for turning the economy around during his presidency and achieving progressive goals. But he simultaneously turned that praise into an explainer of voter frustration that has marked this election season.

“The president said be not afraid, embrace change, don’t run away from it,” Clinton said. “So why is this such a crazy election? Why are there so many angry people? Because that beautiful picture he painted of America’s future, there are still too many Americans who look at that picture and they can’t find themselves or their children there to save their lives.”

In typical style, Clinton’s speech was wonky. He praised neighboring Iowa for its advances in wind energy and said the economy of the future depends on bringing back manufacturing jobs, investing in modern infrastructure, and helping students burdened by debt. He also jabbed at the divisiveness on the other side of the campaign and said Hillary wants to bring people together. “Hillary is running for president so that every single American can find themselves in the picture,” he said.

Nebraska will decide which picture they prefer in the state’s Democratic caucuses Saturday. President Clinton also had a scheduled stop planned in Lincoln Friday night.  The state's Republican presidential primary will be held May 10.  

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