Former President Bill Clinton spoke to an overflow crowd at South San Antonio High School Thursday afternoon, hoping to boost support for congressional hopeful Pete Gallego, who's locked in a tight race with GOP Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco.
Clinton's visit comes at a crucial time for the Gallego campaign. The Hill newspaper, Real Clear Politics and the Cook Political Report have all labeled the race for Texas' 23rd Congressional seat a toss-up. Things got particularly ugly early this month when Canseco's campaign fired off mailers accusing Gallego of denying God, supporting “abortion for young girls,” and wanting “marriage to be between man & man.” Gallego called the attack crass, disrespectful and over the line.
Most recently the Sierra Club has set its sights on the race, highlighting Canseco's ties to big oil and gas, which has donated $230,000 to his campaign. An new Spanish-language radio ad from Sierra Club independent Action airing in El Paso, Odessa and San Antonio says, “Canseco accepted tens of thousands of dollars from big polluters and votes without shame to let them spew toxic mercury that poisons our air, our water and the fish we eat – threatening the health of our families.” (The Canseco campaign has responded by claiming Gallego's beholden to “radical environmentalists.”)
Before introducing Clinton to thunderous applause, Gallego said, “I've never seen, in all the years I've been in elected office and all of the years I grew up around politics, a starker difference between candidates than you see this November. It's an incredibly stark difference.”
Clinton took the stage, praising congressional hopeful Joaquin Castro, along with twin Mayor Julian Castro and his Pre-K 4 SA initiative. “I'm a big fan of the Castro brothers. Now that I just said that, by this afternoon the Republicans will have an ad up in Florida saying Clinton endorses Fidel and Raul (Castro),” he joked.
Clinton continued: “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 the two car parade, and God is on my side.' Isn't that basically what they're saying?”
True to form, Clinton rode the line between humorous and professorial, taking jabs at the GOP ticket while explaining, in often exhaustive fashion thoughout his speech, why he feels voters should choose Gallego and President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election.
See an excerpt from Clinton's speech below. -- Michael Barajas