Bill Clinton rallies Miami college crowd for Obama

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 12, 2012 12:21 AM
Bill Clinton rallies Miami college crowd for Obama

By David Adams and Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton delivered another enthusiastic pitch for President Barack Obama on Tuesday, telling a Florida audience packed with college students that Republicans are a threat to education funding and healthcare.

A crowd of more than 2,000 people braved the rain to line up at Florida International University in west Miami to hear Clinton, who last week gave a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention calling for Obama's re-election.

Clinton, aiming to help Obama beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the November 6 election, reprised the theme of "shared responsibility" between government and society that played a central role in his convention speech in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A "militant, bitter anti-government strategy" is no way to build a modern society, Clinton told the crowd. "It's not business versus government the way it's set up by our opponents. It's business and government working together."

Much of the speech was dedicated to healthcare and criticizing Republican proposals regarding the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly.

"The Medicare trust fund instead of running out of money in 2024 will now go broke in 2016 because we're spending more money on it," Clinton said, referring to Republican proposals. "Which means either they'll have to change Medicare as we know it even eight years earlier than they promised to, or take more money away from education, not to pay for seniors on Medicare but to pay for providers."

In Charlotte last week, Clinton gave a powerful endorsement of Obama in a 50-minute speech to party faithful that brought the house down. He ended by bowing before Obama on stage before the two embraced.

Florida is one of a handful of swing states that political analysts say are key to deciding the November election.

Obama concluded a two-day bus tour of the battleground state over the weekend, making appeals to independents, Latinos and senior citizens.

Clinton got the loudest cheers when he praised the Obama administration for reducing interest rates for student loans.

"Starting in 2013 every student who borrows money under the federal student loan program, however much you borrow will be able to pay that loan back for up to 20 years for a small fixed percentage of your income," he said.

He also advocated increasing Pell grants for low-income students "and making it possible for everyone to pay them back as a limited percentage of their income."

(Writing by David Adams; Editing by Will Dunham and Lisa Shumaker)