Former President Bill Clinton was the featured speaker at the Indiana Democratic Party’s “Hoosier Common Sense” political rally Friday morning at Indianapolis’ North Central High School.
Clinton was joined onstage by former Indiana Governor Evan Bayh, current gubernatorial candidate Greg Simpson, and Senate Candidate Joe Donnelly.
Donnelly, in fact, was given the honor of introducing Clinton, who was the event’s final speaker.
An array of other state and local Democratic political leaders also took the podium Friday, rallying an already-enthusiastic capacity crowd of about 4,000 around many of the Democratic Party’s core principals.
The morning’s other speakers included North Central High School’s student body president, Mason Gerard, Indianapolis City-County Council president, Maggie Lewis, U.S. Congressman Andre Carson of District 7, and Vy Simpson, Gregg’s running mate.
All of Friday’s speakers promoted bi-partisanship with Republican counterparts, while chiding Republicans for a lack of the same and for a “my way or the highway mentality.” There was also no shortage of attacks on the Republican establishment and on Republican political opponents.
Simpson aggressively attacked Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Pence.
“Poor Mike Pence,” she chided at the outset of her speech. “He’s mad because we called him an extremist on a TV ad.”
As the crowd giggled, Simpson posed: “Let me ask you: He voted to let the auto industry in Indiana go bankrupt and lose Hoosier jobs by the thousands; does he sound like an extremist to you? He voted against equal pay for equal work for women and against the minimum wage; does that sound like an extremist to you? He supports more tax breaks for the wealthy and voted to dismantle Social Security and Medicare twice; does that sound like an extremist to you? He voted against education funding, against Pell Grants for college students and...against Big Bird; does that sound like an extremist you?”
“Yeah!” the crowd returned.
“Well, my friends,” Simpson continued, “it’s time to shut the extremist down. He hopes you forgot the image of him standing in front of the Federal Capital Building saying, ‘shut the Federal Government down over access to cancer screenings and STD screenings for women.’”
Simpson further called on everyone present to work diligently from now until Election Day to reach out to every Independent and “common-sense moderate Republican” voter.”
“Explain to them why elections matter and why this one matters most of all,” she implored. “If you can do that, then we will have a governor by the name of John Gregg.”
“And then,” she continued, “we will have a governor that will support the middle class, that will support working families, that will support education in our public schools. And we’ll have a governor that supports women and stands up for equal pay. A governor who stands up for access to healthcare.”
Donnelly chided his Republican Senatorial opponent and Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock for his stances on Social Security and Medicare.
“Mr. Mourdock questions whether Medicare is even constitutional. Do you think it’s constitutional?” Donnelly posed. “He questions whether Social Security is constitutional. Do you think it’s constitutional?”
On both counts, the crowd made clear their opinion that both programs are indeed constitutional.
Donnelly echoed a recurring theme during the rally regarding Republican-party partisanship and Washington gridlock when he compared his marriage to the relationship between Democrats and Republicans.
“I have been married 33 years,” Donnelly said. “And in that time, nobody ever got their way every single day; nobody was ever able to say ‘my way or the highway.’ Not in our marriage, not at work — that doesn’t happen where you work, either — or anywhere else. America works best when we all work together.”
Donnelly challenged the audience to make phone calls and encourage as many family and friends as possible to vote in November.
Clinton didn’t pull any punches either, stumping adamantly for both Donnelly and Greg.
“I don’t understand,” the former president said, “how you could say your biggest thrill in life is imposing your opinion on someone, especially if you don’t necessarily know what you’re talking about.”
Clinton was referring to a Democratic campaign ad in which Mourdock is heard saying one of his greatest thrills in politics is imposing his will on opponents.
“What is this idea that it’s my way or the highway?” Clinton added. “I was raised to believe nobody’s right all the time.”
Clinton also praised Mourdock’s predecessor, Senator Dick Lugar, saying the Senator was always willing to do what was in the best interest of the country, regardless of party differences.
“When the interests of the country were on the line, we worked together,” Clinton said. “And when I saw the [Republican] primary race unfolding, where Senator Lugar’s opponent was excoriating him for working with President Obama on national security matters — do you really think it’s a Republican or a Democratic issue whether Osama Bin Laden and a lot of the leadership of Al Qaeda is gone? I thought that was an American issue.”
The former president criticized both Pence and Mourdock for opposing the Obama administration’s 2009 bailout of the auto industry.
“John Gregg’s opponent voted against it, and Joe Donnelly’s opponent tried to kill it in court,” Clinton said. “You’ve got to give them credit; they didn’t just speak out against it; I mean, they took a real stand. They said, ‘let’s put those suckers out of work as quick as we can.’”
Clinton also attacked general Republican economic policies. “An economy of shared prosperity is better than one that starts with the theory that it will all trickle down. We’ve learned that a philosophy that ‘we’re all in this together’ is better than a philosophy of ‘you’re on your own.’”
“Let me tell you something folks,” he continued, “Every time a kid leaves this school without a degree, every time a young person in Indiana has to drop out of college because of debt, it constrains the economic opportunity and the growth potential of everybody else in the entire state.”
Clinton added that he’s traveled to over 100 countries since leaving office. “Here’s what I know: Everywhere in the world and everywhere in America where people are doing well, it’s because government and business work together.”
He continued, “Cooperation and honorable compromise work better than constant conflict. This deal that’s being presented to us by the group that now controls the Republican Party doesn’t work very well. I frankly resent the fact that it’s called ‘conservative,’ because it’s not. I promise you, the four people on this stage; we are way more fiscally conservative than the people they’ve got running for president and vice president. As I said in Charlotte: We believe in arithmetic. I can’t figure out how they get called conservative.”
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.