Bill Clinton draws big crowd at Jacksonville campaign stop

Clinton tells supporters to get out, vote and 'give Hillary the keys'

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Former President Bill Clinton drew a huge crowd Friday at the downtown Jacksonville library as he campaigned for his wife, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Nearly 1,200 supporters packed into the conference room to hear the 42nd president cover a wide range of topics that have become noteworthy throughout this election cycle.

The message of Clinton's speech Friday was very direct. From the beginning, he talked about the need for the next president to cross party lines and work with leaders on both sides of the aisle. He said his wife has proven in her career that she can do that.

A couple of protesters tried to drown out the former president's speech, shouting, “Bill Clinton is a rapist,” but they were quickly escorted out of the room.

After things settled down, Clinton talked about a wide range of issues and said his message was one of unity, not division.

“I don't want to insult anybody. I don't want to put anybody down,” Bill Clinton said. “What I want to do is -- and what I spend all my time doing -- is explaining why I believe Hillary should be president.”

Multiple speakers took the stage before Clinton did, and not one of them said the name Donald Trump.

They talked about the Republican nominee and what they see as his shortcomings, but the message focused on the former secretary of state's credentials and her plans on everything from small business to national security, talking about the attacks in San Bernardino and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

“She's the only one that has actually said what we can do realistically to deal with problems that deal with staggering numbers of us,” Clinton said.

As Clinton got close to the end of his remarks, he encouraged supporters to make sure that they vote and get others to vote, and he left them with a one-liner on the importance of this election.

“If you don't want somebody to drive a truck off a cliff, do not give them the keys,” he said. “Here is what I want to say: Give Hillary the keys.”

Clinton will be making other Florida stops on Saturday, in Bay County and Pensacola.

North Florida is a reliably Republican area, but Democrats can draw votes in such places as Jacksonville and Tallahassee, and Hillary Clinton has pushed into red areas nationwide as Trump's polling numbers have sunk.

Bill Clinton said Friday that like many others, Hillary's campaign sees Florida, and more specifically Northeast Florida, as one of the keys to this election.

Bill Clinton was supposed to travel across North Florida on behalf of his wife late last month -- but that trip was canceled when Clinton flew to Israel for the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Kaine to campaign again in Florida

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine will make appearances Sunday and Monday in Florida, as presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign continues focusing heavily on the key state.

Kaine, who was in South Florida during the past weekend, is expected to appear Sunday in Alachua and Orange counties and Monday in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, according to a news release Wednesday from the Clinton campaign. 

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine will make appearances Sunday and Monday in Florida, as presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign continues focusing heavily on the key state.

Kaine, who was in South Florida during the past weekend, is expected to appear Sunday in Alachua and Orange counties and Monday in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, according to a news release Wednesday from the Clinton campaign.

Doors open at 12:30 p.m. Sunday for Kaine's early voting rally on the north lawn of the J. Wayne Reitz Union on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The event begins at 2:30 p.m.

Kaine's trip will follow a bus tour by former President Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is also expected to campaign next Tuesday and Wednesday in Florida, according to the campaign.

Kaine's trip will follow a bus tour by former President Bill Clinton. 

Hillary Clinton is also expected to campaign next Tuesday and Wednesday in Florida, according to the campaign.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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