NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Bill Clinton replaced his recovering wife on the campaign trail Wednesday with a speech in North Las Vegas, urging the crowd at the College of Southern Nevada to reject a “road rage” mentality and win over Donald Trump supporters with kindness.
Hillary Clinton was originally scheduled to make the trip to Nevada, but was diagnosed with pneumonia and stumbled after leaving a Sept. 11 memorial event in New York on Sunday. The former president said he talked to his wife before Wednesday’s rally and she should be back on the campaign trail Thursday.
“I’m glad to have a chance to stand in for Hillary today,” he told an audience of about 370 people. “She did it for me for a long time. It’s about time I showed up and did it for her.”
Bill Clinton’s wide-ranging, 40-minute speech touched on immigration and the economy, but also on the toxicity of the presidential campaign. After describing the particulars of his wife’s student loan relief plan, he acknowledged the subject bored people in interviews.
“They want to talk to me about the last mean thing someone said about Hillary,” he said. “You basically have a constant state of feeding the anxiety and anger that’s out there. We don’t need to feed the road rage. We need to slow the car down and think about our common future.”
Clinton reminded the crowd that Nevada is a battleground state where his wife and Trump are close in polls, so attendees needed to get out and vote.
“This is one state that everyone predicts will be close, because it always had been,” he said. “You can make the difference.”
But they also needed to persuade Trump supporters over to Clinton’s side, because in spite of signs at Clinton’s campaign rallies that say “Love Trumps Hate,” he said, “sometimes it doesn’t.”
“Don’t treat them the way he’s treated us, the way he’s treated the Khans, the way he treated John McCain,” Clinton cautioned. “Go talk to people and tell them that stronger together beats the living daylights out of driving a stake through the heart of our common future and our common humanity.”
Before the rally, the Trump campaign issued a statement reviving Hillary Clinton’s recent comment at a fundraiser that half of Trump’s supporters fall in “a basket of deplorables.” She partially walked back the comment later, saying she shouldn’t have said “half.”
“Nevadans have one question for the former President,” said Trump’s Nevada State Director Charles Munoz. “Does he agree with his wife that half of us in the Silver State are deplorable or desperate?”