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Bill Clinton Focuses On Small Business, Student Debt And Equity In Aliquippa Speech

Matt Rourke
Former President Bill Clinton speaking in Montgomery County last week. He spoke Friday morning in Aliquippa, Pa. at the Franklin Center.

Former President Bill Clinton spoke to a group of about 200 supporters in Aliquippa, Pa. Friday morning, promising that his wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, would create tangible changes for communities he called “left out and left behind.”

“We can’t grow enough manufacturing jobs for everybody,” Clinton said. “We have to have the small business economy coming back and she’s the only person to do it.”

Clinton said his wife would provide tax incentives for small business owners and create a loan program aimed at young professionals who want to start their own company.  He also said she’d raise taxes on businesses outsourcing jobs to other countries.

“(She) wants to lower taxes on businesses that share their profits with their employees, that properly train their employees so they can get better jobs and better incomes and that invest in areas that have been left out and left behind.”

Aliquippa, home to the Jones and Laughlin Steel, has seen its population drop by more than half since 1980, according to census reports.  Nearly a quarter of the population falls under the poverty line.

Although Clinton never mentioned Donald Trump by name, he didn’t ease his criticism of the GOP nominee. When talking about Trump’s using illegally imported steel in his construction, one supporter yelled “lock him up!”  The phrase is typically associated with Mrs. Clinton’s email server controversy.

“No, don’t do that. Don’t do that,” Clinton said. “That’s the kind of stuff ‘they’ say. I don’t want you to lock him up, I want you to lock him out of the White House.”

The former president also spoke about his wife’s proposals to decrease student debt, saying she wants to make public universities free for any student whose family makes less than $125,000 annually. He said she wants to find a way to make private colleges affordable as well and help students with existing debt refinance their loans.

“A college loan is the only loan in the entire United States of America you can’t refinance when interest rates go down,” Clinton said. “It’s wrong and we’ve got to put an end to it.”

With only eleven days left before voters cast their ballots, Clinton ended with advice for anyone who might come across Trump supporters at the poll.

“If they say something mean to you, do not respond in kind,” Clinton said. “Instead, I want you to smile and say, ‘that’s the difference in our campaign and yours. We actually care about you, we want you to be part of our America. We don’t mind you being mad, but you’ve got to decide what to do about it.”

A recent Quinnipiac Poll of Pennsylvania puts Mrs. Clinton ahead of Trump by nearly six points, with Mrs. Clinton at 41 percent and Trump at 41 percent.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm