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Elections
Coverage of the 2016 presidential election from NPR News and related blogs, including candidate profiles, interviews and talking points.On-air specials will also be broadcast as Election Day approaches, including the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.WRVO also provides coverage of regional elections both on-air and online.

Former President Bill Clinton makes upstate swing ahead of primary

Former President Bill Clinton has spent the last several weeks campaigning in New York for his wife, ahead of the state's primary April 19.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton only made one trip to upstate New York ahead of the state's primary. Her first stop came in Syracuse on April 1. She then visited Albany on April 4, and campaigned in Buffalo and Rochester April 8. But the former senator from New York has had some help with her campaign in upstate New York, from her husband.

Former President Bill Clinton held several campaign events throughout the region over the weekend. On Saturday, Clinton, along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), held a rally in front of several hundred people in Watertown.

"I hope you're as excited as I am that we have President Clinton here in Watertown!," said Gillibrand as she introduced Clinton.

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Credit Jason Smith / WRVO News
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introducing former President Bill Clinton in Watertown, N.Y. April 16

Clinton took the stage and talked about several issues important to the region, as well as the role New York is playing in the presidential race this year.

"What happens in New York state in the primary will shape the unfolding of the rest of the primary states," Clinton said.

Clinton focused a large portion of his speech on healthcare. He said a bigger investment needs to be made to combat the growing heroin crisis that is taking place around central and northern New York, and around the nation. And Clinton said that both he and Hillary have been directly affected by the crisis.

"Hillary and I have four friends who have lost children," Clinton said. "This is not an academic exercise to us."

Clinton mentioned the work his foundation has done to provide the anti-overdose drug naloxone to small communities around the country, and called the heroin epidemic a public health crisis.

But Clinton said it's more than that.

"It's also a case of people dying of a broken heart," he said. "Because it's led to a decline in life expectancy among middle aged, working class Americans for the first time I can remember. And you can say it's the drugs, it's the alcohol, it's the suicide, yeah. But it's the getting up every day and thinking every tomorrow is going to be just like every yesterday and there's nothing you can do to improve your life or improve your children's prospects. That is what is killing a lot of these people, and we have to bring economic opportunity to people."

Clinton also touched on the way New York votes in a primary, saying this is the only large state in the nation that has a president-only primary.

"In all these other states, there are also congressional primaries, state assembly, city council races," he said.

Clinton said that because New York's presidential primary is the only race on the ballot, voter turnout tends to be low.

"If you want [Hillary] to be president, and you want to send a message to the remaining states, the most important thing you can do between now and November is to spend the next few days trying to talk your friends and neighbors into voting. Yes, voting for her. But voting! We have to show up in numbers," Clinton said.

After a 20-minute speech, Clinton met with supporters and got back in his motorcade and headed for the next event in Syracuse. But not before stopping at a Dunkin Donuts in Pulaski for some coffee, and handshaking.

Hillary Clinton will have more help from family ahead of Tuesday's primary. On Monday, Bill Clinton will make campaign stops in Buffalo and Rochester, and their daughter Chelsea will make stops in Ithaca, Seneca Falls, Watertown and Rome.

Full audio of Clinton's speech in Watertown April 16