San Antonio Express-News
Clinton takes the stage in San Antonio
By Gilbert Garcia and Josh Baugh
Friday, October 26, 2012
A beaming Bill Clinton visited the South Side on Thursday to argue that the nation’s future depends on a strong 2012 election turnout from Democrats.
The former president received a rapturous greeting from an overflow crowd of more than 2,000 at South San Antonio High School ‘s basketball arena. He hit the stage to the thunderous strains of U2’s “Even Better than the Real Thing,” flanked by Democratic congressional hopeful Pete Gallego, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, Mayor Julián Castro and his brother, congressional candidate Joaquín Castro.
Clinton immediately declared his admiration for the Castro twins and surprised the audience by singling out San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, who sat in the stands and routinely applauded the speech.
The 30-minute address was vintage Clinton : wonky but folksy, and casual but fiercely partisan.
He repeated many of the greatest hits from his September speech at the Democratic National Convention, including a mockery of Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s plan to slash Medicare, and a reminder that the Democratic Party has presided over more job creation than Republicans in the past 52 years.
He also tweaked the tea party. “For people who tell us every day how much they hate the government … they spend a whole lot of time trying to get a hold of it,” Clinton said.
He added a popular riff about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying Romney refuses to provide policy specifics and merely tries to assure voters, “I fix things.”
Clinton even found time to praise Mayor Castro’s Pre-K 4 SA ballot initiative, which would expand pre-kindergarten availability in the city with the help of a 1/8-cent sales-tax increase.
Gallego, however, was the focus of the visit.
A veteran state representative from the small West Texas town of Alpine, Gallego is locked in a tense District 23 battle with first-term incumbent Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio.
“If you look at the campaign that’s being run against Pete Gallego, it’s your basic, standard tea party deal: ‘The government would mess up a two-car parade, and God is on my side,’” Clinton said. “I don’t want to get into a religious dispute, but the Bible that I read said the only time Jesus got really angry was when he had to run the money-changers out of the temple.”
Meanwhile, Canseco spent Thursday working the far Northwest Side with GOP Senate candidate Ted Cruz. They visited a GOP campaign office before Canseco departed for an evening event in Del Rio .
Canseco acknowledged that he’s in a close contest with Gallego but said their policy differences are clear.
“I think less government governs best,” Canseco said. “He believes more government governs best.”
At the rally, Clinton praised President Barack Obama for reforming the student-loan process and investing in public education.
“You’re going to determine (this election) by both how you vote and whether you vote,” he told the audience. “There is no doubt in my mind that if every single person in Texas who was eligible to vote registered and voted, this would be a Democratic state.”
He concluded by urging voters to stand with the Democratic Party and “save America ‘s future.”
At that point, Clinton took off his navy-blue jacket, the PA system cranked up Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and the crowd partied like it was 1992 all over again.
In the crowd, the message resonated.
Local solar-energy proponent Bill Sinkin said Clinton and the other Democratic speakers “couldn’t have been better.” Sinkin’s son, Lanny, said he thought Clinton was “terrific, as always.” He added, “I feel like turnout is going to be huge.”
Two college students, Aaron Garcia and Charles Duncan, said they were amazed by Clinton ‘s performance.
“Bill Clinton was awesome,” Garcia said. “He made some very good points about the other campaign not having facts and figures.”
Both students said they had already voted. Duncan, who was well-versed in Castro’s Pre-K 4 SA plan, cast his ballot in favor. Garcia voted against the measure.
“I wasn’t sure what it was,” he said. “I saw the word ‘tax’ in it, so I voted ‘no.’”
Early voting continues until Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Former President Bill Clinton, center, surrounded by Lloyd Doggett, left to right, Pete Gallego, Julian Castro, and Joaquin Castro, greet the crowd at South San High School in San Antonio to show support for Pete Gallego and other Democrats running in the upcoming election. Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012.
Photo: Bob Owen, San Antonio Express-News / San Antonio Express-News