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Bill Clinton Campaigns for Wife in Claremont, Hanover

Thursday, January 14, 2016
Claremont — Former President Bill Clinton told voters on Wednesday they can expect a Hillary Clinton presidency to carry on his commitment to poor, under-developed communities.

“Politics in a campaign can be just about rhetoric. Governing is about whether you deliver,” Clinton told a room of about 160 people gathered at the Common Man.

The Water Street building is evidence of his delivery as president, Clinton said. Once a derelict and empty space, benefits from the New Markets Tax Credit helped transform it into a restaurant and inn.

The credit program was Clinton’s last bill signed into law before the end of his presidency. It provided tax credits to companies willing to invest in community development projects.

“The American economy was moving when I left office and I wanted to do something our country has not been very good at, which is to help areas that have been left behind,” Clinton said. “You see what good it did.”

If anyone wants to see what a Republican presidency would look like, he said, Congress allowing the credit to lapse in 2014 is indicative of their poor track record.

Clinton assured the crowd that his wife shares his values and is committed to investing in small businesses, green energy, raising middle-class incomes and strengthening banking regulations.

“I think she’d be the best commander-in-chief. I think she has the best experience and knowing when to stand her ground and when to find common ground,” he said.

The Claremont stop was one of three Clinton made on Wednesday in support of his wife. He spoke in Keene, N.H., earlier in the day and ended it addressing a standing-room-only crowd at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Although New Hampshire is often referred to as “Clinton Country,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign is hoping his presence on the campaign trail can boost poll numbers before the first-in-the-nation primary, 27 days away.

Hillary Clinton is currently trailing her main opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, by 6 points in New Hampshire, according to an aggregate of polls from the Real Clear Politics website. The two are tied in Iowa, and Clinton continues to lead nationally by 9 points.

Opening the Wednesday event for Clinton, Claremont City Manager Guy Santagate said he hopes the former president can “break the glass ceiling” and become the first “first gentleman” in the White House.

“I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but in my opinion, Hillary Clinton’s the most competent, qualified individual that’s ever run for president,” he said to laughs from the crowd.

Clinton’s trip to Claremont brought him back to a city steeped in primary history. At a campaign stop in the 1992 race, he was confronted during a tour of a paint-brush factory by a tell-all account of his relationship with Gennifer Flowers.

The city also was home to the famous 1995 handshake with then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, where they both promised to address campaign finance problems by establishing an independent commission on 

That commission never materialized, but Clinton said his wife plans to tackle the matter, if she’s elected. He said she plans to nominate Supreme Court judges willing to overturn the Citizens United decision, which allowed for undisclosed contributions to political groups.

“I was raised by my mother to believe that if you’re ashamed of something, you shouldn’t do it. And if you’re going to do it, you ought to just tell everybody,” Clinton said. “This is wrong. We’ve got to do something about it.”

Speaking about the paint-brush factory, he said a call to Wal-Mart helped the troubling company connect with a retailer looking for American-made products.

“That’s the way we keep score in my family,” Clinton said. “Are people better off when you quit than when you started.”

Some in the audience were there for the 1995 handshake, as well as Bill Clinton’s past stops.

Claremont resident Joyce Belarski’s son, Trevor, was a small child then. The two came to see Clinton once again, but now Trevor Belarski is a 28-year-old Sanders supporter.

“I’m a big Hillary supporter,” Joyce Belarski said, which drew her to see Bill Clinton. Her son, however, said curiosity, rather than commitment, is what made him decide to accompany his mom.

Bill Starr, of Walpole, N.H., was sure where his vote would be going during the primary. Starr, 75, has been a Clinton supporter since Bill Clinton first ran and plans to continue.

While he deplores Clinton’s past sexual history, he said, the economic policy and resulting “boom days” of his presidency helps ease concerns. As for Hillary Clinton’s role in her husband’s past affairs, Starr said, that was 20 years ago, and “none of us know what goes on in anyone’s marriage.”

Tim Camerato can be reached at or 603-727-3223.


Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking the bench. An earlier version of this story alluded to the process incorrectly.

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