Former President Bill Clinton brought the national political debate to the campus of UC Davis Tuesday afternoon, criticizing Republicans and big political spending alike and urging students to get involved.
"We have to do it together," he told the large crowd on the campus quad. "It all begins with you."
Clinton's visit was in hopes of boosting four local Democratic candidates in tight, nationally watched races for Congress: incumbents Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and challengers Ami Bera of Elk Grove and Jose Hernandez of Modesto.
The 42nd president of the United States may be the most popular politician in the country at this point; a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted just before the Democratic National Convention put his approval rating at a whopping 69 percent.
And the Davis rally milked that reputation for all it was worth. At the end of his half hour speech, each of the four Democratic candidates posed for a beaming photo with their arm around the beaming ex-president.
Clinton's remarks were a freshened up reprise of his praised convention speech from last month. He reminded the crowd of statistics showing more jobs created during Democratic than in Republican administrations in recent decades. And Clinton repeated his now familiar phrase attacking GOP proposals for an economic recovery.
"We have, standing on this stage, four people who believe for very different reasons," said Clinton, "that a country of 'We're all in this together' works way better than a country of 'You're on your own.'"
The four local congressional campaigns have been targeted by a barrage of television ads, many paid for by independent 'Super PACs' that can spend unlimited money under the controversial 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United case. The ex-president on Tuesday offered a strong rebuke of the high court's decision in that closely watched campaign finance ruling.
"The Citizens United case hung a for sale sign on the seal of the United States of America," said Clinton. "It was a disgrace."
Clinton left the Yolo County campus for another congressional campaign stop in Nevada, and has plans to stump for other Democratic candidates this week in Arizona, Iowa, and Indiana.