Pinch-hitting on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton didn’t mention her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders by name on Monday but warned against “a single-issue campaign” and “rewarding people who tell us things they know they can’t do.”
Hillary Clinton had been scheduled to appear at the afternoon rally at the Port of Palm Beach Cruise Terminal, but she scrapped those plans to campaign in Nevada, where Saturday’s Democratic caucuses have taken on heightened importance for her after Sanders won a big victory in this past week’s New Hampshire primary.
“Hillary’s running to restore the American dream to all Americans,” Bill Clinton told the crowd of 600 to 800 people.
Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, has presented a tougher-than-expected challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. With Donald Trump’s outsider campaign leading Republican polls, Bill Clinton said that “both primaries have been dominated by very emotional campaigns that I think are the product of people’s doubt about whether they can claim that future.”
He suggested the Democratic Party is experiencing a pull to the left similar to the rightward pull exerted on the Republican Party by the tea party movement.
“It’s not altogether mysterious that there are a lot of people that say, well, the Republican Party rewarded the tea party. They just tell people what they want to hear, move them to the right and we’ll be rewarded – except they didn’t get anything done. Then, that’s going on now in our party,” Clinton said.
Later, the former president said: “We are too politically polarized and we keep rewarding people who tell us things they know they can’t do because it pushes our hot button.”
With Sanders advocating a single-payer health-care system, the Clinton campaign has accused the Vermont senator of seeking to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“We’ve got to realize this is not a single-issue campaign. We do have to provide affordable health care to everybody, but it’s a lot easier to go from 90 to 100 than from zero to 100. It’s a lot easier to have a president who’s spent a lifetime actually leading on this issue,” Bill Clinton said, referring to Hillary Clinton’s work as First Lady on a health-care plan in the early 1990s.
Sanders often mentions “revolution,” but Bill Clinton said “the real revolution we ought to remember is the American Revolution, which divided power, granted individual rights and basically required us to work together…When you hear all this talk, the definition of revolution is having 60 votes in the Senate and getting rid of the Republican House.”
Before Bill Clinton took the stage, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, told the crowd that Sanders lacks Hillary Clinton’s ability to get things done.
“In the twilight of my years, I don’t have any time for pie in the sky,” the 79-year-old Hastings said.
Hastings served with Sanders for 14 years in the House before Sanders was elected to the Senate in 2006.
“The same things that Bernie is talking about now, Bernie was talking about before and he hasn’t able to accomplish it all in the whole time he was there for the reason it takes 218 House members and 60 Senate members in order to do the things he is talking about. I don’t have time for that,” Hastings said.
“There comes a time where reality meets the rubber on the road,” Hastings said. “I’m for pragmatic politics and we should elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.”
The pro-Clinton crowd included at least one Trump supporter, who held up a Trump sign near the end of Bill Clinton’s remarks. Before the Trump supporter was escorted out, Clinton said Trump had once told him “how terrible the Republicans had been to me and what a brilliant job Hillary did as a senator.”
Bill Clinton also briefly addressed the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Republican pledges to prevent President Barack Obama from appointing a replacement.
“In a deeply divided country, they like a deeply divided Supreme Court that decided Bush v. Gore in Florida,” Clinton said.
See our gallery of photos from the rally for Hillary Clinton, MyPalmBeachPost.com/gallery