A series of closed-door fundraisers this fall allowed former president Bill Clinton to speak candidly to donors about the state of the country. Transcripts from those speeches released by WikiLeaks reveal Clinton echoing some of the same themes that have driven Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The Economy Hasn’t Gotten Better For The Working Class
Trump, who earlier this year proclaimed his love for “the poorly educated,” has consistently argued that working-class Americans have yet to see their financial fortunes improve under Obama.
At a November 2015 fundraiser in Canton, Ohio, Bill Clinton said Democrats have ignored the fact that “84 percent of the American people, after inflation, had not had a raise of 1 cent since the financial crash.”
Clinton went on to say that because of the economy, white working-class Americans “don’t have anything to look forward to when they get up in the morning. Because their lives are sort of stuck in neutral. Because their lives are sort of stuck in neutral.”
Clinton also cited the 84 percent figure at an October 2015 fundraiser in Hartford, Connecticut.
“I saw a chart the other day that said that since the crash, after inflation, 84 percent of the American people have had literally not one dollar increase in income,” he said.
“I was appalled that no one asked and no reporter wrote about the fact that a week before that debate a national report was published which said that the life expectancy of working-class, non-college- educated, white Americans, men and women, was dropping and was now less than Hispanics,” Clinton said at the November 2015 fundraiser.
The reason why, he explained, is “Because this country’s still coming apart at the seams for millions and millions of people. We have to figure out a way to restore broad-based growth, to have more jobs, more business formation, rising wages.”
The Political System Is Rigged
Trump has tried to define his campaign as a battle against a system that is “rigged” against working class Americans. In an October 2015 fundraiser in Chesapeake, Maryland, Clinton agreed.
Working class voters, Clinton explained, “think the political system is rigged against them, which it is to some extent, and they think it doesn’t make any difference anyway, so they want to vote for whoever they think will raise the most hell.”
Mexican Heroin Is Killing Americans
Trump has cited skyrocketing rates of heroin addiction as support for his proposed crackdown on illegal immigration.
Bill’s speeches show the former president is similarly concerned about heroin flowing across the southern border. During an October 19, 2015 fundraiser in Potomac, Maryland, he blamed Mexican cartels for the “epidemic of prescription drug and heroin addiction that is sweeping across America and has gone into every rural area and small town in the country.”
He noted that “the price of heroin has dropped persistently as more of the plants are being grown in Mexico and harvested in remote areas of the Sierra Madre by preteens who take the poppies, squeeze them, and begin the process.”
“Now, what has happened is this addiction has become more expensive and more hazardous because the government’s finally doing a better job of dealing with it. So it is morphing into a heroin epidemic in all kinds of small towns and rural areas all across America. Why is that?” he asked at an October 7, 2015 fundraiser in Michigan.
“Because in distressed areas of Mexico, they’re able to grow poppies and harvest them with preteens protected by gangs in their physical isolation, so they can ship that heroin up here much cheaper than we could otherwise get it,” he explained.
While speaking at a fundraiser in Vienna, Virginia later that month, Clinton said the reason for high addiction rates is that, “heroin poppies, or opium, is now being grown – or poppies are now being grown in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico, and harvested by preteens. Eight- and nine-year- old kids are paid by the drug dealers to take care of the plants, squeeze them out, and begin the process of producing heroin. That’s why heroin is so much cheaper now than cocaine.”
“And it is flooding in the small towns in rural America where the economy has collapsed and where young people thing there is no hope,” he continued.
America’s Next President Needs To Make The Country Great Again
Using language that calls to mind Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again,” Bill Clinton said the job of the next president is “to bring America back, an America where if people work hard, they can get rewarded; where if you do what you’re supposed to do, you can send your kids to college and they can look forward to having a decent future; where it’s possible if you work hard to raise a family and succeed at work and at home in the most important job of any society, raising children.”