Former President Bill Clinton sought to appeal to young voters Tuesday morning on Ohio University's campus, noting Hillary Clinton's college tuition plan and stressing the need for progress in the nation.
Bill Clinton previously visited Athens in 2008 and in the '90s.
“I actually came to Athens and (Ohio University) when I was running for president, back in the dark ages,” Clinton joked. “Before most of you could vote and many of you were born.”
The stop was the first of several Clinton made Tuesday campaigning for his wife in Ohio. He spoke to a group of about 3,500 on the west side of Memorial Auditorium, most of who were students.
“I would love to be your age,” Clinton told the crowd. “Because I want to see what happens.”
After joking that he would love to go back in time 50 years and be 20 again, he criticized the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by saying he wanted to take the country back to where it was 50 years ago.
At one point, Prince Shakur, a former member of OU's Student Senate and local activist, interrupted Clinton to criticize the former president’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
"I will not vote for a candidate that has sent millions of my people to prison," he said.
Shakur, who previously went by Ryant Taylor, was promptly silenced by the crowd, but Clinton responded to his comments by defending the bill, saying it reduced crime and “it was popular across all racial and income groups.” He added that Hillary Clinton would likely do things differently.
Clinton spoke about Hillary Clinton's college plan, saying she and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., put their individual plans together to make a better one. The plan Clinton currently campaigns on includes free tuition for community colleges. The plan would also allow families with an income under $85,000 to pay no tuition for in-state, four-year public colleges and universities. Students from families with an income up to $125,000 would be able to do the same by 2021.
Bill Clinton said the Affordable Care Act did “a world of good” and the numerous efforts in Congress to repeal it were a mistake. However, in his Monday rally in Flint, Michigan, he criticized the Affordable Care Act for causing a rise in premiums, CNN reported. Angel Urena, Clinton's press secretary, however, said he supported the act, but understood the need for improvements.
Hillary Clinton would try to implement a public option and expand Medicare to allow people 55 years or older to opt into the program, Bill Clinton added.
Earlier at the event, Sarah Grace, candidate for state representative, introduced former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is running against incumbent Republican Rob Portman for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.
Strickland was interrupted by a member of the crowd who shouted: “He’s down 15 points!” a reference to Strickland’s sagging poll numbers.
“Yes, but Athens will make up the difference, my brother,” Strickland responded and the crowd cheered.
Strickland said Athens County has provided important support for himself, for Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign and would do the same for Hillary Clinton.
OU freshman Bailey Williams, an organizer for the Democratic coordinated campaign in Ohio, introduced the 42nd president of the United States.
Athens resident Tina Brown said she has been volunteering for Clinton’s campaign by working phone banks and other local campaign activities. Brown, a union member, said she supported Hillary Clinton because of her stance on unions and her work on children’s issues.
“She seems to be devoted to family,” Brown said.
Sai Jones, a junior studying sociology and pre-law, said she doesn’t necessarily support Hillary Clinton, but wouldn't rule out supporting her in November.
“I just like hearing different sides to every story,” Jones said.
Kevin Pan contributed to this article.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Prince Shakur as Ryant Taylor. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.
Bill Clinton speaks at Ohio University