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Enthusiastic Crowd Greets Bill Clinton at Faneuil Hall

By Eric Richard
Staff Reporter

At a campaign stop at Faneuil Hall Friday, Gov. Bill Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd estimated to number 45,000. Clinton spoke on several key issues and attacked his opponent in the campaign, President George Bush.

Clinton focused his speech on the issues of the economy, health care, education and the environment. He started by questioning Bush's refusal to debate him on Sept. 22, which had been set for the first presidential debate. Amid chants of "Where was George?" Clinton explained Bush's failure to show up for the debate.

"How can you explain the worst economy in 50 years?" Clinton asked. "How do you explain living with 1 million people who are HIV positive and not mention the word AIDS during your four years in office?"

"Let us develop a domestic Peace Corps to rebuild America," Clinton said, as he explained his proposal for guaranteed students loans. Under his plan, students could receive loans for college to be paid back through public service including teaching or service in the Peace Corps.

"This election is about what happens to our children and grandchildren. It is about whether [our] children will have a country they can be proud of," Clinton said as he turned to address the contingency of Boston University students sitting behind him.

"We want a president who cares for the family. Mr. Bush says, `We can't, we can't, we can't,' " Clinton said, referring to Bush's recent veto of the family leave bill. "I will get up every morning worrying about your families, saying `We can,' not `we can't.' "

Clinton's speech was also filled with optimism about the future and the likelihood that America can pull itself out of its recession. "What we have today is because Americans have fought to stay the course for change.... It is our responsibility to raise this country up."

After his speech, Clinton entered the crowd to shake hands.

Other Democrats speak

Before Clinton's arrival, many other state and government representatives spoke, among them a former foe during the primaries. Former Sen. Paul E. Tsongas received overwhelming support from the crowd. "We have to take a president from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and move him to Maine," he said. "Then that house will be empty and we can ask Bill Clinton to be our president."

"This election is about choice. This election is about change. This election is about jobs. This election is about leadership," said State Sen. Patricia McGovern.

Emphasizing the notion of change, U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II said, "Bill Clinton can bring a spirit of revolutionary change back to America."

"The challenges of the future are now. Get out and vote because this country must move again," said Boston City Council member Bruce Bollings. "This election is too important not to vote."

The speakers before Clinton also mentioned the Sept. 20 stabbing of Yngve K. Raustein '94 on Memorial Drive. The stabbing "shows a lack of moral leadership at the top," said Steve Grossman, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. "This is the opportunity for us to put two men in the White House who will respect this country. There must be an end to intolerance, racism, bigotry, and ethnic intolerance."

"If you want a better life, register to vote. Register your hopes. Register your dreams. Register your fears. Register your spirit. Register to vote," said Joe Washington of the Wellesley United Methodist Church.

Crowd reacts to speech

"I thought [his speech] was good," said Rick Driscoll of Northeastern University. "He combined idealism with substantive ideas. I think Clinton really hit the right stride with this speech."

"I like his policy on education and health, but I wish he would have mentioned women's issues," said BU senior Amy Turiel.

"His speech was pretty impressive. He talked about a lot of issues I wanted to hear about," said an MIT student. "I'm definitely voting for him."

A handful of Bush supporters toting signs for their candidate turned out at the rally as well. "I thought it was pretty good," said Boston resident Bill Domoban, who carried a Bush sign. "Pretty good, for a boy."