Bill Clinton accuses Donald Trump of turning back to the time of white America

Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton accused Donald Trump of seeking to turn back the clock to days of a white America, during a speech before a largely African-American crowd in Orlando Wednesday.

In an address supporting his wife Hillary Clinton‘s Democratic bid for the White House, Bill Clinton accused Trump of harkening to an America where blacks were not a part of the economy or political power. He also accused Republicans of targeting black voters with state-initiated voting reform laws.

He also suggested Trump used code words to seek bigoted white voters, though Clinton threw around a few code words of his own to appeal for the black vote.

“Make America Great Again? If you’re a white Southerner you know exactly what it means. What it means is, I’ll give you the economy you had 50 years ago, and I’ll move you back on the social totem pole,” Clinton said. “What Hillary wants to do is take the totem pole down and let us all go forward together.”

Much of Bill Clinton’s speech, to a small crowd of no more than a few hundred people who did not fill the Dr. James R. Smith Neighborhood Center on Orlando’s west side, was dedicated to drawing distinctions between what he said were Trump’s vision for America and his wife’s. Bill Clinton used Hillary Clinton’s campaign theme “Stronger Together” to argue that Trump was seeking to do the opposite, divide.

Bill Clinton spent much of his 32-minute speech promoting Hillary Clinton’s policies, specifically those dealing with her plans to invest in infrastructure and jobs training to stimulate the economy; rework college tuition and student loan programs; and to pass “sensible immigration” reforms. He also spent time defending his Clinton Foundation from attacks circulating through Trump and Republicans, and he argued it is one of the most effective and efficient charities in the nation.

But Clinton also spent much of his speech talking about discrimination against blacks, Hispanics, gays, and, most poignantly, Muslims. In each instance, he left the suggestion that Trump was encouraging, if not actively promoting, discrimination. He said it was clear voting reform laws could not be about solving voter fraud issues, since there were very few credible claims of voter fraud.

He said Trump’s rhetoric seemed to be playing best with older, white Americans, and he bemoaned the notion.

“At some point you ought to get too old to hate,” Clinton said.

And, he said, “But that’s mine. That’s my culture. I have watched working-class white people manipulated all my life. People rubbing salt into their wounds, instead of bandaging their wounds and saying let’s go tomorrow, together. Let’s do something. Let’s change. Let’s make it better.”

In introducing Clinton, Democratic congressional nominee Val Demings went further, explicitly accusing Trump of bigotry, and of discrimination.

“Something that Donald Trump, the Republican, doesn’t know about: dignity and respect,” said Demings, the former Orlando police chief running in Florida’s 10th Congressional District against Republican nominee Thuy Lowe.

“This is about moving our country forward. And Donald Trump’s history of bigotry always threatens to send America back,” she said. “His history of lawsuits of racial discrimination in his housing developments in three states across the country already threatens to send our nation back. He has continuously promoted a condescending and undermining perception about some Americans. And that’s not what America wants. We want an America that’s unified.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

One comment

  • Scott Garland

    September 9, 2016 at 7:57 am

    However, Clinton failed to mention that in the 2008 Democratic primary, he cut a radio ad for Hillary — promising voters that she would “Make America Great Again.”

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