EDISON, N.J. — Former President Bill Clinton on Friday conjured up an image of an open and inclusive America with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at its fore, saying the country must not wall itself off from others.
“We need bridges to the future that connect us to the rest of the world and take advantage of our diversity,” Clinton told a crowd of about 700 at Edison High School.
The audience that packed the school’s gymnasium in support of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was diverse in both age and ethnicity. They cheered nearly every line Bill Clinton delivered to make the case that Hillary Clinton is “the one you want to be president.”
Without mentioning his wife’s rival by name, Clinton condemned a proposal by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump to erect a wall at the southern border of the United States and have Mexico foot the bill.
He also criticized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies that he said Trump has championed, noting that the terrorists behind the deadly attacks last December in San Bernadino, Calif., were radicalized by propaganda on the Internet.
“We can build all the walls in the world, and you can’t keep social media out,” Clinton said.
Both California and New Jersey hold their Democratic primaries on June 7.
Hillary Clinton was leading her Democratic opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by 14 percentage points in the Garden State, according to a Quinnipiac University poll this month.
There are 142 delegates at stake in New Jersey’s winner-takes-all primary.
Speaking to the racial diversity of Edison and the region, Bill Clinton spoke about former President John F. Kennedy’s advocacy as a senator for opening America’s borders to immigrants from southern Europe, Asia and Africa.
“In 1958, John Kennedy had a more progressive stand than the Republican Party and its nominee do today,” Clinton said.
Clinton commended the city’s namesake, inventor Thomas Edison, and said Hillary Clinton would increase the country’s use of sustainable and renewable energy and bring back manufacturing jobs from abroad.
Chris Riera, 40, of East Brunswick, who attended the rally with his wife, said he backs Hillary Clinton’s vision to strengthen the country’s economy.
“We live in an economy where we both still have student loans,” Riera said, adding that he doesn’t want his children burdened with similar debt.
Eve Jankowicz, 63, of Monroe Township, brought her grandson, Jackson Jankowicz, 9, of Hillsborough, who clutched a book about U.S. presidents that he wanted Clinton to autograph.
“Her plans can actually be done,” Eve Jankowicz said, contrasting Hillary Clinton’s agenda with that of Sanders.
“He should get out of the race,” Jankowicz said of Sanders. “He’s detracting from her.”