Subbing for a sick wife, former president Bill Clinton delivered a meandering, folksy speech in this presidential battleground state on Wednesday, arguing that Americans should choose “answers, not anger” and elect his spouse.
Over the course of about 40 minutes, the former president spoke dismissively of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, argued that Donald Trump’s immigration proposals are misguided, and suggested that the Republican nominee’s call to “make America great again” was racially tinged code for rolling the clock back 50 years.
Clinton also reported that his wife, who was diagnosed Friday with pneumonia, is on the mend, only he referred to her as having the flu.
“She’s feeling great, and I think she’ll be back out there tomorrow,” Clinton said of wife, who plans to campaign Thursday in North Carolina. “It’s a crazy time we live in, you know, when people think there’s something unusual about getting the flu. Last time I checked, millions of people were getting it every year.”
Speaking in a state that he carried twice but polls suggest is surprisingly tight this year, Clinton framed the election as a choice between a candidate who’s served others her entire life and is offering solid policy proposals and one who is appealing to a sense of “road rage” in the country.
The former president said he understands the anger of Americans who haven’t had a pay raise since the recession, and he said those frustrations are making people more resistant to immigration reform.
“People who are frustrated by the economic circumstances, and they need somebody to blame,” he said.
But he ridiculed Trump’s proposals to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and build on a wall across the Mexican border.
“The worst thing we could do is spend that kind of money on a wall that would be better spent on bridges, roads and airports,” Clinton said.
Speaking of Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” he said he was among those who knows what Trump really means — suggesting it’s a reference to a time when the racial order in the country was different.
“You have to be a certain age, and it helps to be a white Southern man – I know what that means,” he said.
The former president knocked the media for having spent so much time covering his wife’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, a practice that he said has yielded nothing disqualifying.
Clinton pointed to a string of former Republican administration officials who have endorsed Hillary Clinton, an indication, he said, that there are no significant concerns about the national security implications of her email.
“So would they have endorsed her, no?” he said answering his own question.
Clinton’s visit attracted a throng of media to the College of Southern Nevada but he spoke in a relatively small room at the the two-year college, located several miles north of the Las Vegas Strip. Only about 150 chairs were set up in a multi-purpose room of the student lounge, leaving a long line of students and others outside the doors.