FLINT, MICH. - Former President Bill Clinton greeted hundreds of supporters today in Flint, urging them to rally to his wife's campaign for the White House.
"This election is being driven by legitimate road rage over income stagnation and the temptation to vote for somebody's who's entertaining," Clinton told the crowd of several hundred people who attended a rally on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint. "This is a change election. The question is what kind of change do we want."'
In a raspy voice, Clinton said he wanted to give supports reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton and not just vote against her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, whom Clinton never mentioned by name. He said his wife stands for tougher financial regulation, debt-free college and universal preschool.
"America is ready to rise again, and we can only do it if we do it together," Clinton said. "We are just this close to taking off. You've got to go out and talk to you friends and neighbors."
His wife stands for tougher financial regulation, debt-free college and universal preschool while her opponent. "Believes in trickle down economics on steroids."
The crowd included union members, seniors, students and others.
"I wanted to be first in line," said Cheryl Seymour, 60, of Goodrich, who got her wish by arriving about three hours before Clinton was scheduled to speak after 3 p.m. She said she hopes to see the former president and thank him for signing legislation recognizing the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, of which she's a member.
"I'm supporting Hillary," she said.
Clinton's visit reinforces Michigan's importance in the presidential election. Hillary Clinton's Republican opponent, Donald Trump, visited last week.
Flint has been a topic in the presidential campaign because of the water crisis that has gripped the city for more than a year, An unknown number of Flint residents were exposed to lead poisoning from the city's municipal water system after a controversial move to disconnect from Detroit water.
The Flint water crisis was on supporters' minds, but they had other reasons, personal and political, to take the time to see the former president.
Francine Boone, 57, of Burton waited in line for more than an hour before the event opened its doors hoping to meet Clinton, for whom she voted twice.
"I'm for Hillary and I never got the chance to see Bill Clinton," Boone said.
Afterward, she said her wait was worth it.
"I got to meet him, shook his hand, got a picture with him," she said.
Katrinia Purdy, 40, of Milford pulled her two children, ages 9 and 8, out of class today to drive 45 minutes to Flint to see Bill Clinton.
"It's not very often you get to hear a former president," Purdy said. "I want them to know that you have to go vote, you have to participate, you have to be involved."
For Dawn Hughey, 52, of Swartz Creek,the election is personal.
She said that for years, she worked 70 hours a week or more as a store manager.
"I never got paid for more than 40," she said. When President Barack Obama supported a move that compels companies to pay overtime to some managers who work it, she knew it was a huge lift for families like hers.
"I know that Hillary will keep that solid," she said. "I think (Donald) Trump would do away with it."
Andrew Schaeffler, 15, of West Bloomfield came to Flint with his dad, hoping to meet the former president. He volunteers for the Hillary Clinton campaign registering voters and hopes to study political science in college.
"I just really want to participate," he said, noting that he also was carrying an 11 by 17 inch photo of Bill Clinton that he hopes to get the former president to autograph.
By 2 p.m today, the crowd outside the University of Michigan-Flint's Northbank Center was a couple of hundred with a mix of college students, working women and retirees.
Across the street, Anthony Buccilli, 30, of Warren waged a solitary protest, holding a "Hillary for Prison" sign. He said he wished other protesters would join him, but he wasn't intimidated by the crowd, which he described as small.
"If this were Trump, they'd be lined up down the block," Buccilli said.
Detroit Free Press