Presidential Election

Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary at Fresno State: 'It's been an unusual election year'

Long line of people wait to hear Bill Clinton's speech

Reporter Rory Appleton walks the line of people waiting to go into Fresno State's Satellite Student Union for a speech by former President Bill Clinton on Monday, May 23, 2016.
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Reporter Rory Appleton walks the line of people waiting to go into Fresno State's Satellite Student Union for a speech by former President Bill Clinton on Monday, May 23, 2016.

A capacity audience at Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union listened Monday to former President Bill Clinton. It’s was a campaign stop for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Quick highlights from Clinton’s speech:

  • “It’s been an unusual election year,” he says, and the audience laughs.
  • He says Hillary Clinton favors a higher minimum wage. “She loves what California did.” But he adds that more is needed for a true living wage.
  • He uses the same “build bridges instead of walls” line he used in a speech in Bakersfield on Sunday. It’s a reference to GOP candidate Donald Trump’s vow to raise a wall between the United States and Mexico.
  • He reminds California voters that the state gave him a needed boost in the 1992 election.
  • “We have to pass comprehensive immigration reform and stop using people as political footballs.”
  • He says President Obama has done a much better job with the economy than he gets credit for.

Fresno State said the student union had reached its capacity of 857 people. A couple hundred people were still outside the building.

Outside the student union, a group of people protested peacefully in support of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Speakers who preceded the former president included Fresno State President Joseph Castro and UFW leader Dolores Huerta.

Castro said it was "a great honor" to host the former president.

Castro had not met the president as of 10:15 a.m., and he knows Clinton will have to rush to Stockton after this speech. Castro said he would have a short time to brief Clinton on what Fresno State is all about.

"We will tell him about the future leaders being made here and our increased graduation rates," Castro said

Donna Hudson stood about 100 people back in the line to get into the event. She and her friends are proud Hillary supporters, but Hudson had another reason for coming.

"I'm excited to see the former president. Who is gorgeous, by the way," she said with a laugh.

Hudson supports Hillary Clinton because "she's fought hard for women and African-Americans." She believes Clinton is the most qualified candidate by far. Hudson noted the candidate has served as secretary of state and wrote the first plan for nationwide health care.

"I'm also playing the ‘woman card,’ to quote Trump," Hudson said. "And proud of it."

Patrick Forrest and his family sat anxiously in the middle of the line, unsure if they will get in.

Forrest is a Bernie Sanders supporter, but he's also a pragmatist.

"With the logic that Hillary will probably be the nominee, it is time to figure out what her deal is," Forrest said.

This will be the 22-year-old's second presidential election. He voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney, and said it was "a very easy decision."

He's not sure this election will be as simple.

Sophia Trezza isn't old enough to vote in this election, but she came anyway. Politics are important to the 16-year-old, whose father teaches political science at Fresno City College.

"If I could vote, I'd be torn," Sophia said. "I probably don't know enough about either, but I'm leaning toward Bernie (Sanders)."

Sophia said most of what she knows about the candidates comes from social media. She gives Sanders the advantage when it comes to appealing to young people, but she's here to give the Clinton campaign a chance.

Alicia Kong held a spot for her daughter near the back of the line.

"She loves politics," Kong said. "Her whole life is politics."

Her daughter, Cayley, is the student body president at University High School. The 18-year-old received special permission to leave class for the former president's speech.

Her mother said Cayley will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall to study public policy.

"She will work in the White House soon," Kong said.

Check here for continuing coverage of the event.

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