bill clinton

Bill Clinton touts wife’s ability to handle economy, foreign conflicts


CARY, N.C. — The surrogate-in-chief, former President Bill Clinton, opened the North Carolina campaign for his wife Friday, saying she was the best-prepared presidential candidate to guide the country through both its economic problems and its foreign conflicts.

"It is important to pick someone you trust who can immediately handle the national security responsibility in the country as well as get this economy turned around and deal with the issues that are of direct and immediate importance to you," Clinton told an overflow crowd at the Cary Senior Center.

"I’d be for her even if we had never been married."


Clinton made campaign stops in Charlotte and Cary before meeting privately with about the 50 local supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s at the Raleigh home of former Ambassador Jeannette Hyde.

He promised that his wife would wage a vigorous campaign against Sen. Barack Obama in North Carolina between now and the May 6 primary. He said Sen. Clinton would be in North Carolina next week and would visit the state at least once a week for the next six weeks.

The Clinton campaign chose to open its North Carolina effort with a folksy Southern drawl — an Arkansan who is the last Democrat to make a major effort here in a general election, barely losing to the elder President Bush in 1992. (He lost by a significant margin to Republican Bob Dole in 1996.)

A capacity 350 crowded into the senior center, with an overflow of 200 people listening outside over loudspeakers. After his speech, Clinton worked the crowd both in the hall and outside.

The Clinton speech had three prongs: that times were better in the 1990s when the Clintons were in the White House; that things had gotten worse during the seven years of the Bush presidency; and that Sen. Clinton had well-thought out plans on such issues as health care and energy.

Pitching his wife to a more conservative Southern audience, Clinton called her "a fiscal conservative" and noted that she had been endorsed by Hugh Shelton, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a North Carolinian, as well as by 34 retired generals and admirals.

"Why did they endorse a girl for president?" Clinton asked. "They all agree that we need to bring our soldiers home from Iraq."

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