HOMEWOOD (KDKA) – Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail on Friday, and a crowd lined up to see the former president campaign in a part of Pittsburgh often ignored by politicians.
They lined up along Frankstown Avenue in Homewood to get into the Coliseum, a local venue probably unknown to most national politicians — and the former president received an enthusiastic welcome.
Clinton was a poor southern white boy from Arkansas, but he’s always had a special connection to the African American community.
So, no surprise, that Hillary Clinton would want him to be right here in Homewood.
Clinton quickly drew the distinction between his wife and Donald Trump.
“When I was a little boy, my mother started teaching me and it’s taken a lifetime to learn, sometimes I still forget, that you almost never make a good decision in anger,” Clinton told the crowd of 500.
“We got one candidate preaching anger, and another one offering answers.”
And he suggested Homewood wants both safe streets and more good cops.
“Don’t you want to live in this neighborhood where no young African American male is afraid to walk the streets and walk out?”
“Let me finish,” he went on, “And don’t you want to live in a neighborhood where you see a police man or woman in a uniform you’re glad to see them because they’re helping your kids to stay safe?”
“You want both.”
Clinton also reached out to hard-hit coal workers, joking, “The coal people don’t like any of us anymore. They all voted for me. I won twice and they did well. And they blame the president when the sun doesn’t come up in the morning now.”
But the former president said it was warmer weather, cheaper natural gas, and cleaner coal that hurt our region — and his wife had the only plan to help.
“We need to all go into the future together. We really are stronger together, so if she wins, she’s coming back for you, too, and don’t you forget it.”
But Clinton’s basic appeal this Friday was the all-important city vote.
“We can do it. You can do it. But Hillary to do it has to win Pennsylvania, and that’s you.”
KDKA political editor Jon Delano says it’s another sign how important the African American vote in this presidential election.
“I have never in my life seen a presidential candidate come to our neighborhood, this early, this early, and talk about us,” Allegheny County councilman DeWitt Walton told the crowd.
Clinton was quick to remind the crowd that Trump’s theme of taking America back wasn’t good news for everyone.
“It wasn’t so great for a lot of people 50 years ago.”
“If you were African American, Latino, if you were first generation immigrant, if you belonged to some religions, and if you were gay, forget about it. It wasn’t so great for some people.”
And he joked that for even those who wished for the old days, Trump could not deliver.
“Saying I’ll make it the way it used to be is like me saying I’d like to be 20 again. I would actually, but I wouldn’t vote for anybody who promised to make me 20 again.”
Clinton said Hillary was the only one offering substantive plans for the future.
“We need answers not anger, and she is the only candidate offering them.”
Pennsylvania Rep. Ed Gainey says the Clintons know the importance of African Americans.
“We are the backbone of the Democratic Party,” said Gainey.
“They know that we’re going to vote Democrat, so to see Bill Clinton come to a community like Homewood really inspires you to get out to vote.”