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Bill Clinton makes UNCP history with first presidential campus visit

By Abbigail Overfelt
News Editor

Photo by Michael Graham
Former President Bill Clinton waves to spectators as he takes his place on stage during a rally held in the gym on April 1.

On April 1, Former President Bill Clinton visited campus on behalf of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the first presidential visit that the University has ever received.

“I think it’s great for our students to see a former president and see how the campaign works,” said Chancellor Allen C. Meadors.

President Clinton spoke in the main gym of the English E. Jones Health and Physical Center, which had been decorated overnight by Clinton’s campaign.

Miss UNCP Jamee Hunt said that President Clinton’s visit would help her decide which candidate to vote for.

“I am looking forward to what he has to say,” she said.

“They all have things about them that I like and that I dislike,” Hunt continued.

President Clinton devoted much of his speech to speaking on Sen. Clinton’s position on the economy.

“I believe we have a big test ahead of us,” he said as he told the audience that food for the average family would cost $253 per person.

He linked some of the current economy’s problems to trade enforcement.

“[Hillary] is not anti-trade,” he said. “But the terms of trade have to be enforced.”

President Clinton said that trade enforcement in this decade is one-fifth of what it was when he was president.

President Clinton also discussed Sen. Clinton’s stance on education.

“We have got to make it possible for people to afford to pay to go to school,” he said.

President Clinton continued by describing the “student’s bill of rights” that Sen. Clinton helped to put into practice while in office, which allows students to extend their loan payback time after graduation to have lower payments.

He said she wants to raise the amount of Pell grants and attack student loan companies to ensure that they have fair lending terms and practices.

As for students still in grade school, President Clinton said that Sen. Clinton wants to dramatically change the “no child left behind” program.

President Clinton also discussed the war in Iraq.

“We have done the job that we were sent there to do,” he said. “It is time to force the decision.”

On whatever issue he spoke on, President Clinton called Sen. Clinton “the best change-maker I have ever known.”

“I think she’s better prepared for office than I have ever been,” he said.

President Clinton ended with a word of caution to those in office.

“If you ever forget that you are anything more than a public servant, that’s when you’re in trouble,” he said.

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Updated: Friday, April 11, 2008
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