Bill Clinton: Iowans Should Be ‘Upbeat’ About Future

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The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress

Former President Bill Clinton gestures while speaking at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Thursday. 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.

By Mitch McAndrew | mitchrmcandrew@gmail.com

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 he went 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.

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“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 in Mount Vernon.

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.

Audience members listen to former President Bill Clinton 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)

Audience members listen to former President Bill Clinton at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Thursday. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Clinton also talked about his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s 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.

After the speech, staff and volunteers for Hillary’s campaign ushered students across Cornell’s picturesque campus to the Cole Library where a one-day early voting site had been set up.

“When I leave, you go vote,” Bill Clinton urged the crowd. “I go, you vote.”

Voters 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.”

Emma Krombholz, a Cornell College sophomore from Colorado, said she was mostly at the event to take it all in.

“It’s really cool that so many high profile people have come to here,” she said, noting Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard’s stop in Mount Vernon last week.

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’ was all about anger and division, and the Democrats were all about vision and optimism.”

RELATED: 2nd district GOP House candidate disavows Trump

The 42nd president’s stop at Cornell College in Mount Vernon is part of a two-day bus tour in Iowa to campaign for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in an effort to turn out the early vote in Iowa.

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

Voters fill out ballots inside Cole Library 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)

Voters fill out ballots inside Cole Library at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Thursday. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

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 Oval Office 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.”

RELATED: Common ground in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district 

Krombholz found it “ridiculous” that Bill Clinton faces criticism over his alleged sexual behavior.

“It’s dumb that people bring it up as some sort of merit for Hillary,” she said.

Misha Quill, a Mount Vernon resident, said Bill’s past had nothing to do with Hillary’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.”

This report was produced by The Daily Iowan Ethics and Politics Initiative, a team dedicated to in-depth political reporting from Iowa. Follow The Daily Iowan’s Ethics and Politics Initiative (@DIpolitics) and politics editor Mitch McAndrew (@MitchieMac) as the election hits the home stretch in swing state Iowa.

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