Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bill Clinton Glows at Guilford College

By Lynne Brandon

Greensboro, NC. – He is the only Democrat in the last six decades to serve two terms and today, Bill Clinton is more popular than ever. The former president is busier because of his global initiatives, appearances and speaking engagements that take him to the world’s four corners. Recently he took the time to stop by Greensboro, North Carolina to speak to a sold-out crowd of 4,000 as a part of the Guilford College Bryan Series. It was a perfect venue for the man who prizes education.

From the moment the charismatic Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas approached the stage the audience knew that the sizzle that got Clinton elected in 1992 is still there. The exuberant crowd rose to its feet in an all-out Southern welcome for the 42nd president. He remains a crowd-pleaser with few peers.

Clinton’s topic was “Embracing Our Common Humanity.” The theme is close to the heart of the founder of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), who has made a name for himself as a world humanitarian. The CGI was established in 2005 to bring together global leaders to “devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.” Sustainability is at the top of the list.

An eternal optimist by his own admission, Clinton spoke frankly about America’s pressing challenges which he cited as inequality, instability and unsustainability. Correcting these problems will ensure America’s future success and create a “shared prosperity” for all.

Steps to success and numerous statistics about the global economy were rattled off by Clinton, impressive in itself since he doesn’t use notes. Primary methods for turning around the U.S. economy and strengthening its future are thoughtful economic strategies and tax cuts.

“Looking at what the competition is doing is one approach,” Clinton said.

“We need a new source of employment every five to 8 years. In the next decade, biotechnology and solar and wind energy will provide jobs.”

Tax cuts and smart competition were mentioned for bringing the manufacturing industry back to the U.S. Clinton referenced two new manufacturing plants that are being built in Nevada by Chinese business owners who said the U.S. made it attractive to do business here.

Even as the economy still struggles and the recession may still be in the early stages of recovery, the former president does not believe our best days are behind us.

“The world has been betting against us for years and our epitaph has been written many times, but we always come back,’ Clinton said.

In the drilled down language that Clinton is famous for, he said simply, “We are no longer relentless. We need to get focused on results as we have in the past. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal to get things done.”

A standing ovation ended his talk and Clinton endeared himself to the crowd with a salute. Unlike most world figures, the consummate man-of-the-people stayed behind to shake hands and sign autographs, even though he was flying to Switzerland the next day to pitch the U.S. as host of the 2022 World Cup.

The former president and humanitarian is unique in his ability to captivate, inform, and entertain, even while imparting bleak news. His finishing touch was vintage Clinton magic: We didn’t want the speech to end.

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