BOWLING GREEN - Former President Bill Clinton reminded hundreds of people in a Bowling Green gymnasium of the prosperity of the 1990s and urged the crowd to vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the March 4 primary to help cure Ohio's - and the nation's - economic woes.
Mr. Clinton spoke yesterday afternoon in the city's community center as his wife, the Democratic senator from New York, is engaged in a struggle for the party's nomination against Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
Texas and Ohio, which hold primary elections next week, are proving to be crucial - particularly Ohio, Mr. Clinton said.
The former president was introduced by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, an ardent supporter of Mrs. Clinton.
The governor said he has known her for more than a decade and believes she will make sure everyone has access to health insurance.
"Ohio is a microcosm of America and on March 4, Ohio will send a message across America that this is Clinton country," Mr. Strickland told the crowd.
He added, "It's not over until Ohio votes."
Mr. Clinton also emphasized the importance of the state, and detailed why he thought Ohioans should support his candidate.
Mrs. Clinton will help the state with her strategic energy plan, putting people to work in the wind and solar power industries, he said.
"This is not rocket science," he told the crowd.
"You have to get this economy going again."
He reminded the audience of the growing economy and budget surpluses of the 1990s.
"Compare this decade to the one before," he said.
He said part of Mrs. Clinton's economic plan includes providing affordable health-care coverage for all Americans.
"How many of you know someone without health care?" he asked, "Raise your hands," he urged, as hands across the gymnasium shot up.
Mrs. Clinton's idea would allow people to keep the plan they have or buy into a federal one, he said.
Universal coverage for all Americans is needed, Mr. Clinton said, because the current system is so broken.
"The financial tail is wagging the health-care dog," he said.
Mr. Clinton also detailed how the senator would get rid of the No Child Left Behind education policy, raise Pell Grants, and give tuition tax credits.
"That's putting America back in the solutions business," he said.
Linda Osstifin, 48, of Toledo, sporting a Hillary Clinton button and holding a sign, said she's hoping Mrs. Clinton will be the nation's first female president.
She said she's attracted by Mrs. Clinton's ability to get the job done.
"She's not just going to tell you about it," she said. "She's going to go ahead and do it."
Still, not everyone was as convinced.
Several said they were still undecided or just there to see the former president.
"No one speaks publicly as well as Bill Clinton," said Daniel Tutolo, 73, a retired Bowling Green State University professor who said he is undecided.
He said he doubted he would decide who to cast a ballot for until immediately before the election.
Another undecided voter was James Pfundstein, 47, an instructor at BGSU. He said he was there because, "I think Bill Clinton is the best president of my adult lifetime."
Similarly, Kyle Genson, 49, a machinist, said he was there because he was just curious about what Mr. Clinton had to say.
"I think the economy's the main thing right now," he said. "It just seems like everything is going down the tubes."
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