An afternoon with the Clintons

Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton to a crowd of more than 1,000 at Southern Oregon University on Sunday afternoon, two days before Oregon's primary. The former president outlined the economic reforms and Iraq policies that he believes make his wife the best "change-maker" and candidate for president.

"There's a big difference between making a speech and turning it into solutions, and making promises and turning them into progress," Bill Clinton said about his confidence in Hillary after a brief introduction by Chelsea.

8-minute video by Mike Green | Daily Tidings

With the Oregon primary fast approaching, some in the audience said they attended the rally to get more informed before making their final decision, but many others had already voted for one candidate or the other. Those who didn't support Hillary said they couldn't pass up an opportunity to meet the former president.

"I was honored to be in the presence of Bill Clinton," said Brad Carrier, who attended the rally wearing a Barack Obama button. "I think he would be a good secretary of state under Obama."

Second-grade teacher Bryant Schauffler, however, said he was there to gather talking points as the primary campaign winds down.

— — Former president Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea spoke at Southern Oregon University to gain support for Hillary Sunday afternoon.

"I came to be able to talk to my friends into being Hillary voters, and I came to see Bill because he was a great president," he said.

Schauffler, who drove from White City on Sunday, said he supports Clinton's proposal to end the No Child Left Behind school reform program begun under President Bush.

Education reform &

including student loan payback programs that would set maximum monthly payments as a small percent of the borrower's income and forgive loans incrementally for every year that students choose to work as civil servants after graduation &

was one small piece of Hillary Clinton's economic platform her husband summarized during the rally.

Sen. Clinton also has a plan to create jobs in alternative energy, fund universal health care, initiate sub-prime mortgage reform and limit private contracts in Iraq, Bill said.

Each of those issues struck a different chord with rally attendees, including members of the Schauffler family. Schauffler's parents also support Sen. Clinton, but for different reasons.

His father, Thomas Schauffler, a contractor living in a house he built but couldn't sell, said he had high hopes for Hillary's plan to stabilize variable rate mortgages, freezing rates for some borrowers for the next five years and giving states money to bail out mortgage companies at a cost of $30 billion. The damage done to the economy by a "mortgage meltdown" would be much higher than that initial cost, Bill said during his speech.

— — Former president Bill Clinton spoke at Southern Oregon University late Sunday afternoon at the Stevenson Union Courtyard.

"I think that sounds like the best plan out there," Thomas Schauffler said. "I think the banks will end up going broke if they buy back millions of houses."

Judy Schauffler, whose grandfather fought for the French resistance during World War II, opted for Hillary on her promise to end contracts with private defense companies such as Blackwater in Iraq, the mere mention of which drew a wave of boos from the crowd on Sunday.

"As long as you make money off of this war, it's going to continue to happen," she said.

Tom Powell, a North Medford High School teacher, said he supported Hillary for her universal health care platform, which would be funded through a small fixed percentage of the insured's salary and Clinton said would save the economy $700 billion a year.

"I had appendicitis, and I learned the hard way," Powell said of the time when he lacked health insurance. Without help on insurance from his employer now, he said he isn't sure how he would pay for it.

Clinton drove home the importance of health care during the rally.

"It doesn't matter who you elect president," the former president said. "You can elect Hillary or Senator Obama or Senator McCain. It doesn't matter. Nobody is going to bring this economy back if you keep doubling health care costs every seven years."

Those are the kind of issues that left several in the audience still pondering which candidate was really the best change maker.

"I'm kind of undecided, but he may have won me over," said SOU student Allison Tripi, who said she is most concerned about lowering tuition and getting the military out of Iraq.

Bliss Wilson, a 44-year-old non-traditional student, said she still planned to do more research before casting her ballot.

"I want to make sure a Democrat gets into the White House," she said. "I think that Hillary or Obama are equally qualified, but I want to base my decision on who can get into the White House."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .

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