After laying out his wife’s education plans from universal prekindergarten through college student loan refinancing, former President Bill Clinton told a Florida’s teachers’ union Friday in Orlando that “if she becomes president, you will have a partner in the White House.”

Clinton’s 35-minute speech to the Florida Education Association delegate conference at the Rosen Centre lightly portrayed Donald Trump‘s vision as that of pessimism, craziness, and longings for the past, while Hillary Clinton‘s vision is forward-thinking, aimed at making public education integral to economic improvement.

The former Democratic president cited Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan‘s song “Forever Young,” and then argued, “The way you stay forever young is to have your dreams for other people always outweigh your memories of yesterday, no matter how good it was.

“This country, and the emphasis we have put on education from our beginning have kept us forever young. It will keep us always imagining a different tomorrow. We have got to stop the craziness of trying to bring each other down to the lowest common denominator,” Clinton said.

The Florida Education Association has endorsed Hillary Clinton, and it showed in the packed ballroom with unabashed praise from NEA leaders, a sea of Hillary T-shirts and promotional videos for her playing before Bill Clinton arrived. But it also was evident that even among NEA delegates, the adoration was not universal; here and there a few delegates appeared to be sitting on their hands.

Clinton’s speech to them was the first event in a five-stop bus tour that begins in Orlando and continues Friday and Saturday in Jacksonville, Quincy, Panama City, and Pensacola.

To the teachers union, Clinton stayed mainly on an education policy agenda.

Speaking for her, he called for universal access to preschool and early Head Start; both college preparation and job skills training; reduced testing; reinstitution of art and music classes; free community college and the opportunity for free four-year college tuition for families making less than $100,000 a year; and a comprehensive student loan plan that would reduce the need for student loans through increased work-study and financial assistance, the chance to refinance student loans like mortgages, and opportunities to have them forgiven.

He also called for more federal financial support to assist teachers and principals.

“Nobody is pretending this is easy but I think it’s important to note that if she becomes president, you will have a partner in the White House who understands the central role you play in America’s future one by one by one,” Clinton said.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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