Bill Clinton speaks at FIU and fire up some students

Photo by Barbara Corbellini Duarte

Barbara Corbellini Duarte / Assistant news director

The crowd in the Century Bank Arena cheered when Former President Bill Clinton spoke about education, health care and the economy during his visit to Florida International University on Tuesday, September 11.

“The whole purpose of the University is to empower people to live their dreams,” he said.

Clinton addressed President Mark Rosenberg plans to make the University grow and the importance of Pell Grants and loans. According to Clinton, the Republican party wants to repeal student loans.

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

He said that students that drop out of college could be a constraint on America’s growth.

“If you don’t care about them, it will compromise your future,” he said.

Because the focus of the Republican campaign has been on high unemployment rates and on the economy, the Democratic campaign attempts to attract voters by reminding them of how the country was before President Barack Obama was elected.

Clinton said that three months before Obama took office the economy shrunk 9 percent and that the country was losing 750,000 jobs a month.

“No one, could have completely healed that and build a whole new economy […] in four years,” he said.

Clinton spent time explaining the details of the Affordable Care Act, which Governor Mitt Romney says is going to repeal if he gets elected.

More than 220,000 young Floridians between the ages of 19 and 25 for the first time have health insurance because they’re covered under their parent’s plan, Clinton said.

“And now, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to 960,000 Florida children because they have pre-existing conditions,” he said.

Florida plays a decisive role in presidential elections, and Clinton urged the audience to registered to vote.

“We have a lot of reasons to vote, and we have a good candidate to vote for,” he said.

Florida is the swing state with most electoral votes, summing 29. In the past 10 elections, only one time has a president won without Florida’s vote and that was in 1992.

By the end of the speech, students crowded the front of the stage trying to shake Clinton’s hand before he left the arena.

For Pablo Terraza, a junior and public administration major, the most remarkable part of the speech was the comparison between the two parties.

“He talked about how there’s a lot of more common sense idea from the democratic side,” he said. “It definitely fired me up to go out in the field and work for the Obama campaign.”

Mahfoudh Oubadji, graduate student in the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Management, also paid attention to the differences in policies between the parties.

“Bill Clinton tried to make Obama’s plans very clear to everyone and he gave a lot of good numbers in there,” he said. “It made us see what our future is about to be, how our future will be affected by Obama’s policies or Mitt Romney’s future policies.”

Iqra Khan, freshman majoring in pre-med, was excited to see Bill Clinton on campus on her freshman year and plans to volunteer for the Obama campaign.

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