Bill Clinton: Hillary Can ‘Stand Her Ground’

KEENE, N.H. — Bill Clinton played the role of both boastful husband and nostalgic former president in his return trip to New Hampshire to campaign for Hillary Clinton Wednesday.

“If you watched that 11 hour Benghazi hearing, you know she can stand her ground,” he told the crowd of a few hundred gathered at Keene State College. Clinton said he felt "really bad" for House Republican Kevin McCarthy for the storm that erupted after he made a comment on cable news about how the Benghazi hearings helped drive Clinton’s poll numbers down.

"I almost wanted us to vote for him for speaker because he lost his leadership position for telling the truth. He said the most important accomplishment of the House Republican Caucus last year were the seven Benghazi hearings, and especially the last one cause they drove Hillary's numbers down, they just kept on trying. You gotta give it to the Republicans, they just keep on trying," Clinton noted.

Clinton Feeling the Pressure from Sanders 1:44

"I doubt there’s another figure out there in public life that could have stood there for 11 hours, kept her cool, and kept on going,” Clinton added about his wife.

Clinton is back in New Hampshire just as Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers are taking a hit both in early states and in recent nation-wide numbers.

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At an event in Claremont Wednesday, he dismissed attacks on Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump and others, saying the focus on his wife is a "dead giveaway" that they are afraid of the Democratic candidate.

"I just think the American people need to know, that it’s the Republican party screaming they don’t want to run against her," Clinton said in response to a question from NBC News.

In his recent stops in New Hampshire, Clinton has been speaking personally about the toll of addiction on families across the country, an issue that resonates very heavily across the Granite State. He called the opiate and heroin addiction problem one place for "inclusive social policies and inclusive politics.”

Bill Clinton touched a personal tone, recounting the story of the death of the child of one of his best friends from law school, adding, “we have got to do something about this."

"It’s affected everyone,” he stated. “This is something that affects everybody, we are human beings, we can identify with this. The Republican party agrees it should be treated as a public health problem.”

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Clinton then turned to the impact of the presidency. There was an audible reaction from the crowd as Clinton reminded them, “the next president with almost complete certainty will appoint between 1 and 3 members of the Supreme Court."

Clinton’s speech was focused heavily on his wife’s accomplishments - from her time as the first lady of Arkansas to her tenure as secretary of state. He pushed her plans for the economy, infrastructure, clean energy, climate change and affordable college.

“From the time I met her 45 years ago this March, she's the best changemaker I've ever known,” he said.

Bill Clinton didn’t shy away from nostalgia, regaling the crowd with a tale from his 1992 presidential campaign, when New Hampshire ultimately jump-started his political life. He surprised many political observers with a second place finish behind Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary.

Clinton said he remembered driving to Keene, "running like 5th in the polls,” and asked his aide how many attendees he needed to avoid embarrassment. “He said 50,” Clinton remembered. “What’s a great crowd? He said 150. We got there and there were 400 people there.” It was then that Clinton realized something might be happening for him here.

Clinton’s first trip back to New Hampshire to campaign for his wife was last week, when he hit Nashua and Exeter for speeches in front of crowds eager to get a glimpse of the 42nd president.