Former President Bill Clinton raises support for Obama


Bill Clinton speaks to a crowd of about 4,000 at Pullen Park in Raleigh on Sunday.

RALEIGH — Former President Bill Clinton made the case for President Barack Obama’s re-election in front of a crowd of about 4,000 people in Pullen Park Sunday.

In a long speech that addressed several of Obama’s policies, the former president also charmed the crowd with his trademark cheeky humor.

Clinton urged voters to consider Obama’s foreign policy record, including his success with combating terrorism.

“And, he’s got a heck of a Secretary of State,” he said.

Clinton also questioned Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s record — likening him to the “chief contortionist at Cirque du Soleil.”

Education and financial aid were other key talking points in Clinton’s speech.

Obama has signed legislation that has doubled funding for Pell grants, increased teachers’ pay, and kept student loan interest rates low, Clinton said.

“No one will ever have to drop out of college again because they’re afraid they can’t pay back their loans,” he said.

Logan Deberry, a freshman at N.C. State University, attended the rally in a Romney sweatshirt.

“I voted enthusiastically for Gov. Romney, but Bill’s a likeable guy and a good speaker. I decided to come out and listen to him, even if I disagree with what he’s saying,” he said.

Democratic N.C. gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton spoke before Clinton.

“The stakes could not be higher for our country and for North Carolina,” he said.

Dalton was joined by other prominent Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Gov. Bev Perdue.

But North Carolina has been conspicuously absent from Obama’s schedule.

“I think Obama has a slim chance to win North Carolina, so it is probably more helpful that he visit other states,” said Shelby Currier, a UNC graduate who attended the speech.

Students agreed that Obama’s campaign is not giving North Carolina as much attention as other states.

“Clinton’s visit is a huge push for Democrats in North Carolina, but I don’t think the party sees the state as one of the main swing states,” said Henry Liverman, a sophomore at UNC.

Austin Gilmore, president of UNC’s Young Democrats, said that visits to the state by high-profile Democrats, including Michelle Obama’s event in Charlotte today, indicate that the Obama campaign is still courting the North Carolina vote.

And Sunday’s speakers did just that.

“Bring your friends, bring your family and bring your co-workers and vote, vote, vote,” Dalton said.

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