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Clintons Return To Arkansas

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Bill and Hillary Clinton return to Little Rock this weekend to the place where Bill Clinton claimed victory in the three-way race for the president 25 years ago. But as Bobby Ampezzan from Arkansas Public Media reports, all anyone talked about was the most recent presidential election and the most recent Democratic candidate.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEETWOOD MAC SONG, "DON'T STOP")

BOBBY AMPEZZAN, BYLINE: Bill Clinton's presidential campaigns will forever be connected to Fleetwood Mac's 1977 hit "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow." All evidence Saturday night, though, suggests the Clintons can't stop thinking about last year. Bill and Hillary Clinton recalled both elections and his presidency alongside moderator James Carville before a crowd of several thousand inside Little Rock's convention center. Here's Hillary Clinton speaking about her husband's involvement in the Irish peace process.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: He asked George Mitchell to be the negotiator. It went on for years. There was nothing fast and easy about it. He didn't tweet about it. He got to work about it, and he actually got it done.

(CHEERING)

AMPEZZAN: Clinton got several barbs in at President Trump, though she didn't say his name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: You know, I'm going to keep speaking out. Apparently, you know, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: Apparently, there was another - somebody told me - tweet today.

AMPEZZAN: In the audience sat Chicago mayor and former Clinton staffer Rahm Emanuel, Clinton White House political director Craig T. Smith and photographer Sharon Farmer. And a few former cabinet secretaries were there, too. Both Clintons reflected on Bill's political legacy. But it was Hillary who did the lion's share of the speaking and got the most enthusiastic attention from Carville, the '92 campaign's chief strategist.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMES CARVILLE: So...

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I think there's an elephant in the room.

(LAUGHTER)

AMPEZZAN: Carville was referring there to last year's election loss. But a few reporters said afterward they hoped the elephant in the room was Bill Clinton's past - specifically, his sexual misconduct, which roared back into the American consciousness last year during the election. And it persists to this day, following new stories and allegations targeting other high-profile politicians - Republican and Democrat alike. But the Clintons didn't take audience questions or make themselves available to the press. And many supporters said afterward they didn't think the night's Q&A would broach the topic. The Clintons made no mention of their political plans for the future. Hillary Clinton has formed a political organization, Onward Together. And the couple expects the Democrats to surge during the 2018 midterms just as the Republicans did in Bill Clinton's first term as president. For NPR News, I'm Bobby Ampezzan in Little Rock. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.