Former President Bill Clinton spoke to a Phoenix crowd on Sunday, advocating for his wife, Hillary Clinton, just two days ahead of the Arizona presidential preference election.
The campaign event was held at Central High School, the same venue that President Obama spoke at earlier this year.
The former president spoke for 45 minutes to a capacity crowd of 1,100 about his wife’s plans, views and successes and encouraged them to go out and vote on Tuesday. Topics were wide-ranging, including education, immigration, clean energy, national security and gun control.
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly made a surprise appearance and came on stage to introduce Clinton.
“Speaking is hard for me, but come January, I want to say these two words… Madame President,” said Giffords, the victim of gun violence in Tucson.
Clinton – the only Democrat to carry Arizona in a presidential election since Harry Truman won the state in 1948 – spoke on gun rights, agreeing that Americans should be able to use firearms for hunting, sport shooting and personal safety.
“No one blames anybody for wanting to do what is necessary to protect themselves,” Clinton said. “But it is not too much to ask people who value their gun rights to show a little flexibility to save the lives of all of these kids that are being killed by people.”
Clinton said Hillary Clinton’s stance on gun legislation gets mischaracterized by her opponents.
“I believe she can convince enough people in this country that she has no intention of seizing their guns – that they’re good people and wouldn’t mind waiting a little while so we can close the gun show loophole, so we can close the online sales loophole,” he said.
Clinton talked about the candidate’s plans for putting young people to work.
“The only place where she spends lots more money that what her opponent says he’ll spend is putting young people to work,” he said. “The youth unemployment rate is too high. We need extra training right now for those who don’t want to go to a four-year college. She is the only candidate you can vote for who generally has been praised for being more specific than all her opponents about telling you how this stuff could be paid for – because it’s really important.”
The topic of gay rights came up in Clinton’s speech when the he noticed a supporter’s sign that read “LGBT 4 Clinton.” He spoke about the need for job protection for gay couples.
The supporter, Richard Noble, drove to Phoenix from his home in Palm Springs to drum up support for Hillary Clinton.
“When he said ‘gay couples can get married on a Friday, post their wedding pictures on
Saturday and get fired on Monday’ he’s not kidding.”
Clinton ended his speech saying that Hillary has an “innate understanding of how to get to the heart of the matter and get something done.”
The former Secretary of State is scheduled to appear at a campaign event at 3:30 p.m. Monday at Carl Hayden Community High School.