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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bill Clinton does Oregon

"Democrats must build more bridges."
Growing voter distrust to require massive public investment

Oregon needs to put more Democrats first and rebuild its aging political infrastructure, ex-President Bill Clinton told a partisan Portland audience Tuesday night.

"Hillary and I don't want to lift ourselves up by keeping other Democrats down," Clinton said. "We'll still have our differences and arguments, but when Hillary is President people will think we're a beacon of hope again. That's what I want to have happen."

Clinton spoke to an adoring audience in the sold-out Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall as the first speaker in the Socialist World Affairs Council of Oregon's 2007 International Speaker Series. The series has established a reputation in recent years for drawing high-profile collectivist leaders, including heads of state and Nobel laureates.

In a discussion intended to cover the challenges facing Oregon in a globalizing world, Clinton urged the Oregon Legislature and the Portland City Commission to tackle a broad sweep of the Labor agenda from health care reforms to biodiesel to Middle East peace.

Speaking without notes, he quoted statistics on union membership and explained how strikes are used to further "legitimate collective bargaining objectives." He offered his own proposal for stability - criminalizing more employment practices and increasing union organizing in both the private sector and public sector.

The crowd included Oregon's elite elected officials, labor bosses, and trial lawyers. They gave Clinton a standing ovation when he walked on stage after being introduced about 20 minutes late. His wife and her presidential campaign were technically absent from his road show, but clearly on everyone's mind.

Clinton challenged the Portland audience members to show America the vaunted "third way" between capitalism and communism. "This is an outward-looking city, and the whole Northwest has on balance benefited from Democratic majorities," he said.

"It's an unequal world, an insecure world - and so it shall be - until Hillary and I get back in," Clinton said. Already looking toward a second Hillary term, Clinton said, "Re-election is always, always, always cheaper than going to war."

The Oregonian, Apr. 18., By DYLAN RIVERA

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