Bill Still Draws a Crowd in N.H., But Hillary's Supporters Focus on Her Credentials

Jan 4, 2016

In Nashua Monday, Bill Clinton drew more than 700 people to his first campaign appearance for his wife this primary season. And while the former president remains popular among New Hampshire Democrats, many in the crowd at Nashua Community College said his wife's candidacy rests on her own record.

The Clintons have a long history in the state. Bill Clinton finished second in the state’s primary during his first presidential race, in 1992, and used that surprise finish to cast himself as the “Comeback Kid.” Many in the audience sported buttons dating back to that earlier campaign. Others clutched copies of his autobiography, in hopes of getting it signed.

 Nancy Richards-Stower of Merrimack sat in the front row waving a sign that read “New Hampshire Heart’s the Clintons.” She’s had it for more than two decades.

Nancy Richards-Stower of Merrimack has been a Hillary Clinton supporter since she worked on her husband's first presidential campaign in 1991.
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Stower recounted a conversation she had with Hillary Clinton while working on her husband’s first New Hampshire campaign back in 1991. 

“We don’t do spouses – when the wife or the spouse is in the living room, it is not a great event. We want the candidate in the living room,” she recalled

But after Hillary’s first event on the campaign trail back then, Stower quickly changed her mind. 

“Everybody loved her. It showed what a moron I was for having assumed that she would not be the star,” Stower said.

Campaigning spouses are still a Clinton tactic -- though now it's Bill's turn. 

Today, his Granite State fans include Gail Dufresne a nurse from Rindge who came Monday to hear him speak for the first time. 

“He was a great president, he was fair and he was probably the last one I’ve ever had respect for,” Dufresne said.

On Monday Bill Clinton held his first campaign event in New Hampshire this primary for his wife in Nashua.
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

But although many like Bill Clinton and agree having him on the campaign trail will boost his wife’s chances, at the end of the day, supporters like Amy LaViolette of Nashua say Hillary’s campaign stands on its own.

“I am definitely voting for her for her, on her own merits – don’t worry it is not only about him,” LaViolette said. 

The former president spent a half hour touting his wife’s credentials. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this: I do not believe in my lifetime, anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who is better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done now to restore prosperity," Clinton said to loud cheers.

He walked the crowd through his wife’s resume, including her time as a children’s legal aid lawyer, her work on healthcare as first lady, and her time as Secretary of State.

Former Pres. Bill Clinton signed copies of his autobiography after the Nashua event on Monday.
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Bob Fucile of Nashua said, although the spotlight should be on Hillary, voters shouldn’t ignore the experience her husband brings. 

“With what Bill knows and how he can help both Hillary and help shape the direction of the country and where we go, nobody else can come close to having that complete of a package,” Fucile said.

Voters still have a month to assess whether they want to choose that Clinton combo come Primary Day on February 9.