Bill Clinton endorses Maffei at Syracuse political rally
Support the middle-class, and the country will thrive.
That was President Bill Clinton’s belief when he took office in 1993, and it is still his belief now.
“If you don’t have a strong middle-class, in the end, you’re going to have a weak economy,” Clinton said.
He spoke in front of a sea of supporters in the Syracuse Landmark Aviation Hangar Building on Tuskegee Road Oct. 19 to rally for 24th Congressional District Democratic challenger Dan Maffei of DeWitt.
Maffei is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Anne Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill, in an attempt to regain the seat he lost to her in 2010. The Buerkle-Maffei rematch is one of the closest races in the United States. A recent Siena Research Institute poll had Buerkle and Maffei tied at 43 percent each of voters saying they would cast their ballot for either one. The poll’s margin of error is 3.9 percent. Maffei is also running against Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum of Syracuse.
Clinton and Maffei are no strangers. In 2010, Clinton made an appearance in Syracuse to endorse Maffei.
During his speech, Clinton said he believes Maffei is the better candidate in the race because he has “the right idea” when it comes to policy-making.
“This is not a close question, if you really care what happens to the people who live in this Congressional district, you’ve got to vote for Dan Maffei,” Clinton said.
Clinton touched on issues such as education, health care and job-creation, and said it is crucial for Americans to understand how long it takes to turn a country’s economy around.
“Nobody can turn this thing fully around in four years,” Clinton said.
In his campaign to regain the seat, Maffei calls for strengthening the middle class through tax relief, maintaining Medicare and Social Security as public entitlements for all Americans and increasing federal financial aid for college.
“I’m almost aghast, I can’t breathe, when I hear Republicans talk about the debt,” Clinton said. He said it is crucial to balance the federal budget, but, “we’ve got to do it in a balanced way, and that’s what Dan Maffei will do.”
He described Maffei’s opponent, Buerkle, as a “Tea Party extremist” whose budget policy would simply “be a disaster.”
“I know what that line-budget will do to the day-to-day lives of average Americans,” Clinton said.
He said student loan reform is one of the most important achievements of the last four years, and that nearly “no one knows about.”
“This is the home of Syracuse University,” Clinton said among an eruption of applause. He said the government has to keep interest rates on student loans affordable, to keep college students from dropping out of school.
Before Clinton took to the podium, Maffei spoke and described Clinton as a master of policy-making.
“Our country has never had a better steward of the economy than President Bill Clinton,” he said.
Marc Brumer, spokesperson for the Maffei campaign, said it’s very exciting for the campaign to have someone like Clinton come to Central New York to endorse Maffei.
He said he was unsure of how many people were in attendance but described it as “countless.”
“We were obviously really impressed and sort of humbled for such an overwhelming showing of support for Dan,” Brumer said.
Several local Democratic candidates showed up to support Maffei, including Sam Roberts, Gordon Cuffy and Al Stirpe. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner acted as emcee for the event.
Bernie Bove, 67, of Liverpool, said this was his first time seeing Clinton speak in person. “The guy is just a natural-born speaker,” he said.
Bove said it means a lot to see a big name like Clinton come to Syracuse to support a local candidate like Maffei.
“He’s coming here because he’s really involved and wants to see Dan get elected, which, anybody here wants to see Dan get elected,” he said. “There’s got to be some changes in the country.”
Bove said he thinks Maffei is a very good candidate for Congress because he’s well-versed and knowledgeable about the issues faced by Central New Yorkers.
Colin Crowley, president of College Democrats and liberal columnist for The Daily Orange, was joined by about six other members of the organization to see Clinton speak.
Crowley said he thinks it’s important for the College Democrats to show their support for all Democratic candidates.
“It’s important for us to come out and show our support for Dan Maffei and the local candidates as well because, as the mayor said, it’s important that we have Democrats from the courthouse to the White House,” Crowley said. “It’s great that we were able to get some students out here.”
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