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On this day in 1992: Presidential candidate Bill Clinton visits MSU

By: - September 22, 2021 4:11 am

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at the funeral of former U.S. Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) at Greater Grace Temple on November 4, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Conyers, who died on October 27 at the age of 90, was the longest serving African American member of the U.S House of Representatives in U.S. history, and the third longest serving House member, having held the office for more than 50 years. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

On this day in 1992, Democratic presidential nominee Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton visited Michigan State University and spoke to a crowd behind the Beaumont Tower at the East Lansing-based institution. 

After the speech, Clinton walked on campus and along Grand River Avenue shaking hands with passersbys. Clinton went on to win the presidency, defeating Republican incumbent President George H.W. Bush and independent H. Ross Perot in a three-way major candidate race.

Beaumont Tower, Michigan State University | Susan J. Demas

The Democrat had planned to be in East Lansing to debate Bush, but the Republican objected to the debate format. Ultimately, the three men did debate at Michigan State University on Oct. 19, 1992. It was their third of three contests. 

“I got in this race for president because I did not want you and your generation — including my daughter, who’s a little younger than you are— to grow up to be a part of the first generation of Americans to do worse than their parents,” Clinton told the Sept. 22 crowd. “I am part of the ‘we-can-do better crowd’ and I want you to be, too.”

“I feel a sense of hope,” Rick Graim, a United Auto Workers international representative, told the Lansing State Journal at the time. “There is a new sense of hope out there, a sense of positive change,” he said. “It’s time for us to take our country back over.”

Clinton won the 1992 election. He went on to serve two terms as president and was credited for leading the country during a recession-free eight years. 

In his second term, he was impeached after having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The GOP-led U.S. House of Representatives voted on Dec. 19, 1998, to impeach Clinton for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” After a 21-day trial in the U.S. Senate, a majority voted on Feb. 12, 1999, to acquit Clinton.

His wife, Hillary Clinton, went on to be elected U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state. She was the first woman nominated for the presidency by a major party in 2016. However, the Democrat lost to now-former President Donald Trump.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.