OXFORD – Former President Bill Clinton, known more for the length of his speeches than a firebrand speaking style, took the cerebral approach Thursday when he urged young people to vote Democratic this fall and re-elect U.S. Rep. Travis Childers.
“Folks, you’ve got a great congressman,” said Clinton, who stood with Childers on the Grove stage during the midday rally.
Some 3,000 people gathered for a “get out the vote” rally on the University of Mississippi campus. They were young and old, a rainbow of diversity.
The crowd even held a sprinkling of badge-wearing supporters of Childers’ Republican opponent in the 1st District race, Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo.
Childers introduced Clinton in quick time, to make up for the nearly 60-minute late start under sunny, cloudless skies.
“He is the last president who balanced the budget,” Childers told the crowd, which responded with loud applause.
Clinton thanked Childers “for giving me a reason to be here,” then began a sometimes spirited 30-minute, almost conversation-like explanation about why young people and others in the audience should support Childers’ re-election.
“This is not a thinking election,” he told them. “You’ve got a great football coach – my state gave him to you and I hope you’re grateful,” talking about Rebels’ head football coach Houston Nutt, who came to Ole Miss from a similar job at the University of Arkansas.
He urged voters to consider their choices the way a football team does after a game – to look at their immediate experience and then prepare for the next opponent by examining the evidence about them. “Let’s look at the game film,” he told them.
“Any student – if you’re not wealthy or on an athletic scholarship – you’d be committing malpractice by sitting out this election.”
He urged people to support Childers, who’s seeking a second term in the U.S. House. Clinton says the Booneville congressman and other Democrats have voted to make student loans more affordable.
“Travis Childers voted for the bill that revolutionized the student loan program,” he reminded them. “The other party promises to repeal the law.”
Clinton, who once studied at Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar, blamed Republicans for rejecting a pay-as-you-go approach that he said brought historic balanced budgets and surpluses during his administration.
He told his audience that America’s economic upturn and important job growth are just around the corner.
And he reminded them of Childers’ support for an education stimulus and economic incentives for alternative energy programs.
America’s new jobs will come from wider education and training opportunities for its citizens, he said.
If that’s what you want, “you’d better come out and vote for Travis Childers,” Clinton added.
Childers faces Nunnelee and seven other candidates on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.
National political observers call it a tossup between Childers and Nunnelee.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal