Former President Bill Clinton addressed global issues and briefly touched on his wife’s failed presidential campaign Thursday night during an appearance at LIU Post in Brookville, where he also discussed the administration of the man who defeated her.
Clinton, in both solo remarks and a question-and-answer session with former Rep. Steve Israel lasting more than an hour, covered topics in the headlines recently, including immigration, the November presidential election in which Donald Trump defeated the former first lady, North Korea and the Middle East.
Despite the rancor and division dominating the current national political climate, Bill Clinton said what brings people together is far more important than what divides them.
“In this age, you can build all the walls you want, we are still interconnected,” Clinton said to a packed theater of about 2,200 at the campus’ Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.
The 42nd president’s first mention of Hillary Clinton came early and garnered applause when he mentioned staffers in the audience who had worked for him and his wife. He then said one of those staffers is Dominican, and “he’s one of those immigrants I think we’re very lucky to have.”
Clinton said the world’s goals should be “to build more inclusive prosperity and more inclusive societies,” as well as more inclusive politics.
He also took a subtle jab at Trump’s narrow Electoral College victory that saw Hillary Clinton soundly defeat him in the popular vote.
“Since I believe in democracy,” Clinton said, “I believe the person who gets the most votes should win.”
The comment earned the former president rousing applause.
He said North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, has “done and said enough” to be of grave concern and “he’s playing a more extreme version of the same game” as his father and grandfather. Clinton said the U.S. should be working with China, South Korea, Japan and Russia on issues with North Korea.
He also briefly discussed gun control issues, especially in light of the massacre in Las Vegas. He said “bump stocks,” which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire as if they were automatic ones and which investigators said were used by the Las Vegas shooter, serve no legitimate purpose.
“You do not need this to defend yourself,” Clinton said.
Gun control issues should be put on the ballot because trust in politicians has eroded, according to the former president said
“I recommend giving the voters a direct voice on this,” he said.
Israel asked Clinton about college affordability.
“We should do whatever we can to have the maximum amount of people graduate debt-free,” Clinton answered.
Earlier in the night, Israel, chairman of LIU Post’s Global Institute, jokingly offered the former president a job in the university’s political science program.
Israel also asked Clinton what international challenge made him “toss and turn the most” during his presidency.
Clinton said he was always worried about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. Bin Laden came from a wealth family and chose to live in a cave, which meant “he believed what he was doing,” Clinton said.