Former President Speaks at University of Michigan

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Former President Bill Clinton stressed community and responsibility in remarks to University of Michigan graduates.
Speaking to 6,500 graduates at the school's spring commencement, Clinton emphasized the importance of understanding where they fit in what he called "one of the most exciting times."
The 23-minute speech was punctuated by bits of humor and did include one jab at President Bush and the war in Iraq.
"Security alone will never be enough in an interdependent world," he said. "Make more partners and fewer adversaries. Every time you help a poor village get a clean water well, you make more partners.
"We know how to build adequate health systems. We know how to give people the means to work their way out of poverty. Helping people is less expensive than going to war."
An estimated 59,000 people filled more than half the seats in Michigan Stadium. While Clinton mostly avoided politics in his address, several students wore graduation caps with "end the war" written or taped on top.
And on at least two occasions before Clinton took the stage, a circling plane tugged a banner that read: "Choose Life, Not Hillary & Abortion."
The former two-term president received warm applause when speaking about two Michigan legends: former President Gerald Ford and football coach Glenn "Bo" Schembechler.
"We became friends, played golf and lied to each other (about) sports stories," Clinton said of Ford. "He was a truly wonderful man."
He also joked about Schembechler's being a staunch Republican.
"I've thought whether it is possible to switch (political) parties in the afterlife, or whether it would be moral to pray for such results," Clinton said.
Both Ford and Schembechler died late last year.
Clinton received an honorary doctor of laws degree and thanked the university for its support of his foundation to fight HIV and AIDS.
From there he challenged the graduates, saying, "Think about how you are going to define your citizenship of your nation, community and the world, and how you will reconcile that with your different identities."
Clinton said he prefers to see more good in the world than bad. But, he said, it is marred by inequality and insecurity.
"Half the people in the world live on less than $2 a day, and a quarter will die from HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases," Clinton said. "In this country, there has been a 4 percent increase in the number of people working full-time who are still below the poverty level."
Clinton also said Americans have to do their part in solving problems like climate change, inequities in health care and the depletion of natural resources.
"It's not enough to vote and pay taxes," he said. "Private citizens have more power today than ever before."
Clinton was to give the keynote speech Sunday at the annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner held by the Detroit branch of the NAACP. The theme for the dinner at Detroit's Cobo Center is "We Fight Until We Win," spurred by Michigan's new law against racial and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring.


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