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Bill Clinton Travels the State

Former president, Bill Clinton, visited Roanoke Rapids and Rocky Mount on Friday, appearing at campaign events for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Former president, Bill Clinton visited Rocky Mount on Friday evening, appearing at a campaign event for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Rocky Mount residents started lining up more than three hours before Clinton was scheduled to speak at Everette Gym on the campus of North Carolina Weslyan College.

“I think that she is the best prepared. I think she knows the most. I think she’s got the best plans to rebuild the middle class, to reform the government and take it away from the special interest and give it back to the people,” Clinton said of his wife.

The former president will travel to Winterville, Wilson, Goldsboro, Deep Run, New Bern and Jacksonville on Saturday.

Focusing on small towns in North Carolina appears to be a Clinton campaign strategy ahead of the state's May 6 primary.

“It makes me feel proud to be from Rocky Mount and excited that someone would come here and care about our vote. And it is really exciting that North Carolina has a chance to make a difference this year,” said Crissie Curtis, of Rock Mount, who attended the Clinton event.

Clinton has visited the state previously, as has the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea. Hillary Rodham Clinton has also visited the state.

Hillary Clinton's opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, also has campaigned in the state, and his wife, Michelle, appeared in the state recently, too.

Earlier Friday, Bill Clinton campaigned in Roanoke Rapids, a former mill town struggling with job losses.

Clinton said the United States can bring back the manufacturing industry – so long as the nation can enforce trade laws.

"We can bring manufacturing back to America now," Clinton said on an outdoor stage, a closed mill looming behind him. "But we have to have a commitment."

Clinton did not mention the North American Free Trade Agreement during the campaign event. The NAFTA trade pact was adopted while he was president, but Hillary Clinton has repeatedly said she wants to change it.

Many have blamed NAFTA for accelerating the decline of North Carolina's once-vibrant manufacturing sector.

Hillary Clinton has criticized NAFTA while campaigning for blue-collar votes in North Carolina and elsewhere. She said this week she has a long record of differing with her husband on trade policies, including opposing NAFTA as her husband championed the trade deal and pushed for its passage in Congress.

However, White House records show that when Hillary Clinton was first lady, she attended several meetings designed to build congressional support for NAFTA in the early 1990s. She says she had reservations about the pact at the time and made her feelings known in such gatherings.