Bill Clinton spreads optimism in Iowa

Source: By Mitch McAndrew, Daily Iowan • Posted: Monday, October 17, 2016

Former President Bill Clinton gestures while speaking at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Thursday, October 13, 2016. Clinton was campaigning across Iowa in a four city bus tour encouraging voters to vote early for his wife and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Former President Bill Clinton gestures while speaking at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Thursday, October 13, 2016. Clinton was campaigning across Iowa in a four city bus tour encouraging voters to vote early for his wife and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)
Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday afternoon gave Iowa voters a message of optimism about the future under a president Hillary Clinton, saying the Hawkeye State was uniquely positioned for a bright outlook despite the “bleak” nature of the 2016 campaign.

He said there were three main reasons for Iowa’s promising future, but he only explained two of them before going off on the kind of anecdotal tangent he has become known for.

His view of Iowa’s position came down to two points — soil and wind.

“The world is growing rapidly in population. We have to find a way to feed people who can’t feed themselves, and we have to do it in an environmentally sustainable way that can combat climate change,” the 42nd president told a crowd of about 600 on the lawn at Cornell College.

He also pointed to Iowa’s success with wind energy as a potential model for the nation.

“Iowa has the highest percentage of base-load electricity from wind energy of any state in the United States,” he said.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa derived more than 30 percent of its electricity from wind energy in 2014, the highest of any state.

Clinton also talked about his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and her plans to expand infrastructure, increase small business creation, and lower college expenses.

“The best thing that happened at the Democratic convention is Hillary and Bernie joined together and merged college plans,” Bill Clinton said.

People interviewed by The Daily Iowan said the former president’s hopeful message was a breath of fresh air after a week of acrimony on the campaign trail and a particularly contentious presidential debate on Sunday.

“I still wasn’t sure where I stood politically before this, but this made me feel a lot better about voting for Hillary Clinton,” said Cornell College freshman Myiah Davis. “I let her emails block how I was seeing her, and that changed today.”

Brett Foreman, a 28-year-old Cedar Rapids resident, said the speech gave a “vivid portrayal” of the differences in message between Hillary Clinton and her rival, Donald Trump.

“Just look at their nominations,” Foreman said. “The Republicans were all about anger and division, and the Democrats were all about vision and optimism.”

Bill Clinton’s stop at Cornell College is part of a two-day bus tour in Iowa to campaign for Hillary Clinton in an effort to turn out the early vote in Iowa.

The tour included an additional stop in Davenport on Thursday, as well as Wednesday events in Indianola and Waterloo.

Iowa Republicans have responded to Bill Clinton’s stops by criticizing various scandals in his past.

“Bill Clinton also reminds Iowans of Hillary’s history of bullying and destroying the women he harassed and abused sexually [including an intern in the White House while president] to preserve her political power and ability to trade off that power to get rich,” said Eric Branstad, Iowa state director for the Trump campaign.

On Wednesday, opponents of the Clinton campaign made their voices heard during Bill’s Waterloo speech when a protester shouted, “You’re a rapist.”

Bill Clinton responded in kind, inviting applause for the protester.

“Give that guy a hand — they’ve had a very bad week in the Trump campaign, and he feels bad. Give him a hand,” Bill Clinton told the crowd. “The problem is, if you only listen to one television station, and nobody ever tells you the truth, you get like that.”

Misha Quill, a Mount Vernon resident, said his past had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

“It’s a non-issue. He’s not running for president,” she said. “It’s been a decades-long campaign of lies and hatred that shows … if you repeat a lie long enough, it will be enough to make people suspicious.”