From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
CANONSBURG, Pa. -- After a rare two-day hiatus, Bill Clinton returned to the campaign trail today in Pennsylvania, a state he promised that his family expects to cover "like a wet blanket between now and April 22." The former president again set the bar for his wife's campaign, saying, "She's got to win a big victory" in the Keystone State.
"If she wins a big, big victory in Pennsylvania, I think it'll give her a real big boost going into the next primaries," he said in a crowded senior center in this Western Pennsylvania town. "We're gonna have primaries in Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico. So we're heading around the bend there, and I think I feel good about it. But I think just as I felt she had to win in Texas and Ohio -- and she did, and won handily -- I think she's got to win a big victory in Pennsylvania. I think if she does, she can be nominated, but it's up to you."
Clinton spoke earlier at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., saying as he kicked off a tour of Western Pennsylvania, that it "reminded me of home." He said he's going to stick to the rural areas of the state, because, "I want to go out see how America really lives." "I think you represent the tipping point, the balance of America's political influence," he told a crowd of nearly 2,000.
Clinton delivered a somewhat shorter version of his usual stump there, telling the crowd that his wife has been a change agent her whole life, and was the best-qualified person to be president. And while his wife's campaign has been drawing sharper contrasts with Obama, the former president offered only a few glancing blows, countering his argument that the nation needs someone who was not involved in the fights of the 1990s, and hitting the Illinois senator's health care plan as being insufficient.
"I'm telling you, folks, this is the first time in 60 years since we've been debating this -- in 60 years -- where we have the business community joining organized labor for universal coverage," he said. "Don't back off the universal coverage, embrace it. Go with it, vote for Hillary for president -- it's the only way you can get it."