Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Memphis

Bill Clinton tells voters the country needs a 'change maker'

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As Tennesseans and many in the Mid-South take to the polls in early voting, the 42nd president of the United States took to the stage in Memphis on Thursday for his wife.

Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife, Hillary Clinton, and spoke about a wide array of topics from tough issues, to what's at stake in Tennessee's March 1 primary, even throwing in a few comical remarks.

Clinton urged all Tennesseans to vote early through February 23.

"Vote early, vote often, vote Clinton," Congressman Steve Cohen said. "What President Clinton and First Lady Clinton did working together as a team, laying the groundwork for universal healthcare, getting this country out of a depression, recession, balancing the budget, putting people to work, are the same type of things that Barack Obama did and the same type of things that we can expect from the next Clinton administration."

Watch Bill Clinton's entire speech here

The president pushed Hillary's plan for affordable higher education and economic policies, but he also touched on one of Memphis' crown jewels.

"It was St. Jude that discovered they had a drug that was 100 percent effective against this form of brain cancer," Clinton said.

Clinton recalled his 2012 visit to St. Jude while in Memphis and the strides the hospital has made in research, technology, and treatments in the fight against childhood cancer.

However, weighing heavily on the record Hillary has as a lawmaker, first lady, as well as secretary of state, Bill focused on his wife's record combined with his own record as president. The joint record, according to Bill, proved to be a record the voters needed back in the White House.

"Her first instinct is always not to blame, not to label, not to complain, but to ask, 'what can I do to make it better?'" Bill said, when talking about Hillary.

Clinton spoke about jobs, income and the possibility of the American Dream for everyone.

"Why is everybody so mad? Because, we've got all these jobs and not enough income. What we need to do now is act like we're all 99.5% the same and grow together," Bill Clinton said. "Hillary has said to me in private what she is now beginning to say in public. I do not think you should be the daughter or the granddaughter of a president or the secretary of state to claim the American Dream."

Clinton also highlighted some of the issues, such as homeland security and terrorism, by calling it a mistake to label an entire group of people based on the actions of some people associated with that group.

"It is a big mistake to demonize our Muslim brothers and sisters," Clinton said.

In addition, Clinton hit on social issues, speaking to the Black Lives Matter movement and the violence that is taking the lives of young people on the streets.

He said the country needs "a president who is as upset as those young people are in the Black Lives Matter movement, that we are sick of seeing kids shot on the street."

When Hillary Clinton stopped in Memphis during her campaign trail, she also touched on that same social issue, as well as taking time after her campaign stop to visit with the family of Darrius Stewart.

Bill Clinton's decision to stop in Memphis, many said, was a move to grab the African-American female vote.

"Her campaign recognizes the importance of the black vote, the Latino vote, and the women's vote," Shelby County Democratic Women President Vergie Banks said.

Young voters seemed to like what they heard from the former president.

"I feel inspired, like I actually have a chance to do something in life," Whitehaven High School student McKenzie Walker said.

A packed gymnasium at Whitehaven High School filled more than 650 supporters.

With Super Tuesday right around the corner, and Hillary coming off a large loss to Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, the southern states appear to have become a target for candidates if they want to gain the much needed momentum to carry them through to the nomination.

"I'm ready to go. It's Hillary time," Clinton told the crowd. "We can open the door to every person in this country again, and it's high time we pushed it open for the best change-maker I have ever known. This is early voting time. Go vote for Hillary and do it now."


Suppers and fans of President Clinton began lining up around the outside of the gymnasium hours before the doors open in the hopes of getting a good seat, with a great view, to watch the speech.

"This is huge," Bret Thompson said.

Thompson is an organizer for the Hillary Clinton campaign and a Whitehaven High School graduate.

"As they say, Papa Clinton's on the way," Thompson said. "And he's going to do really well."

Thompson said he knows why Bill Clinton is on the way after Clinton lost the New Hampshire primary.

"The real big push is going to be for African-American women," Thompson said. ""This is the place to do it, because of the demographics of this particular area."

Brooks Brasfield, the lead organizer for the Clinton campaign in Memphis, said a lot of logistics and cooperation with the Secret Service went into bringing the former president here.

"I think the biggest thing is making sure he gets here," Brasfield said.

The former president pushed Hillary's plan to increase affordable access to higher education.

"It's a great school," Brasfield said. "They've done a lot of great work in the last couple of years. You know, as I understand, millions of dollars in scholarship money."

Thompson said he thinks Bill Clinton is the first big name to come to town ahead of the push to the March 1 primary, but he will not be the last.

"If they do very well in Tennessee, it can determine who the next president is," Thompson said.

"Bill Clinton has been my favorite president. Even when he did going against a Republican in Congress. That is pretty remarkable what he did for the economy. So, I'm very excited to see him tonight," Cody Nelson, Clinton supporter, said.

To see pictures of 2016 presidential candidates visiting the Mid-South, click here.

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