Despite tornado warnings and heavy rainfall in Virginia, former president Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at a rally in downtown Richmond’s historic Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday evening.
The rally, which was publicly announced by the Clinton campaign a day in advance, was part of a series of Virginia rallies headlined by the former president as he continues to represent his wife in rallies and other campaign events across the country.
Bill Clinton addressed a variety of political issues including health care, gender equality and racial discrimination. Clinton also referenced his wife’s stance on gun control.
“But I mean this is nuts folks, 90 percent of us know that it’s crazy to be selling guns to felons and stalkers and domestic abusers,” Clinton said.
The former president also remarked on the cost of college education, citing Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan.
“Your college education is a 50 year asset,” Clinton said. “It’s the only loan you can’t refinance.”
Freshmen international studies major Carrie Hamilton and political science major Sven Philipsen attended the rally and said college debt was an issue of particular importance in the upcoming election.
“I think it’s ridiculous how expensive school is and how it’s impossible to refinance loans,” Hamilton said. “Working a minimum wage job, I just can’t do it. I’m already working weekends and now trying to find a second job just to pay for school.”
Hamilton and Philipsen both said they recently transferred to VCU, partially due to the high costs of education elsewhere.
“The issue of refinancing loans and making quality public education affordable for people is a big deal,” Philipsen said.
Pouring rain pelted rally attendees as they waited in line to hear the former president campaign for his wife just six days before Virginia’s primary.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe was scheduled to speak at the rally but chose to skip the event to monitor the storm, which hit central Virginia in the evening and took seven lives, according to the Associated Press.
Despite the inconvenient weather, the rally was at full capacity with bass-thumping pop music and a bustling crowd.
“It was an atmosphere that was welcoming to everyone — the young people, the older people, everyone,” said sophomore Ryan Carroll. “I thought it was great.”
Hillary Clinton beat opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders by nearly five percent of the popular vote in the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20 after Sanders claimed victory in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary by nearly 22 percent of the popular vote. In Iowa, Clinton beat Sanders by a razor-thin margin in the Feb. 1 Iowa primary, which CNN claimed a “tie.”
The candidates face the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27 next, followed by the “Super Tuesday” primaries on March 1, which includes the Virginia primary.
Clinton leads Sanders in Virginia by 12 percent according to a poll which was released on Feb. 16 by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
Joe Johnson, Contributing Writer