MILWAUKEE -- Former President Bill Clinton told about 250 supporters Saturday that Americans can't go back to trickle-down economics, calling it a broken economic theory that doesn't work.
The get-out-the-early-vote event was sponsored by local union 494 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Clinton directed much of his 40-minute speech to calling for widespread infrastructure improvements across America, saying it would create millions of jobs.
The former president did not discuss the vulgar comments Donald Trump made in 2005 that were released Friday and have roiled the campaign. Instead, he focused on the need to rebuild the nation’s economy, saying, “The financial crisis of 2008 had a very long tail. Until this year and last year, most people were living on the same income, adjusted for inflation, they were making the last day I was president, and the cost of everything has gone up.”
Clinton called the expansion of health care under President Barack Obama “the only relief most of them felt.”
He drew loud applause when he talked of infrastructure jobs that could be created by electricians and other skilled trade workers. He said the U.S. should take advantage of low interest rates to invest in roads, bridges, airports and more.
“It's time to realize that there are still 20 or 25 million children who go to school every day in America and get a homework assignment that requires them to get on the Internet and they can’t do it.” said Clinton, adding, “That’s infrastructure, too.”
Shortly into his speech, Clinton was interrupted by at least one heckler. As Clinton started to say, “Nobody can dispute the fact …” a man shouted, “that you’re a rapist! Bill Clinton’s a rapist!”
The crowd booed as the heckler was escorted out. Charles H. Laskonis, who works for IBEW in Illinois and is a Democratic party chairman in that state, was standing by the door as the heckler was greeted by police.
“He kept screaming a lot of stuff about Bill Clinton being a rapist,” Laskonis said. “I said, ‘You’re defending what Trump’s doing?’ and he responded, ‘You people should all be ashamed of yourselves.’”
Clinton seemed unperturbed by the interruption.
“Give him a hand, tell him that we wish him well,” he said, calmly continuing with his speech, “One campaign wants you to forget that this is about you and your lives and your future. Hillary’s running because she wants you and your life and your future and that of your kids and your grandkids to be better.”
Although Clinton never mentioned Trump by name, he twice disparaged the GOP nominee’s campaign motto.
“When people say ‘Make America great again,’ they’re telling you two things: 'I’ll give you what you had 50 years ago, and I’ll move you back up the totem pole, while moving somebody else back down,’” he said. “But 50 years ago wasn’t so great for a lot of Americans. … Hillary’s strategy is to tear the totem pole down so we can all move forward together.”
Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele was in attendance, but did not address the crowd or reporters. Clinton began his speech by calling for former Sen. Russ Feingold to be elected, and thanked U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and former Sen. Herb Kohl for their support.
Ahead of Clinton's speech, state GOP Executive Director Mike Duffey said Republicans hoped the former president would continue to call ObamaCare a "crazy system."
"Voters across Wisconsin understand that Washington D.C. is broken, hard-working families understand that the system doesn't work for them and needs to change, and we can’t trust politicians like Hillary Clinton, who rigged that system, to fix it,” Duffey said.