Inland Democratic congressional candidates Mark Takano and Raul Ruiz got a boost from one of their party’s luminaries when former President Bill Clinton endorsed the two House hopefuls during a rally in Orange County on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Speaking to a roaring crowd at UC Irvine, America’s 42nd president gave a speech that hit on major Democratic talking points while touting Takano, Ruiz and others as the candidates who can help President Barack Obama advance an agenda to help all Americans, not just the wealthy.
“Here’s what I know: ‘We’re all in this together’s’ a lot better than ‘You’re on your own,’ Clinton told the estimated 5,100 in the Bren Events Center. “Shared prosperity … is better than trickle-down economics.”
Clinton also endorsed Democratic congressional candidates Julia Brownley, who is running for a Ventura County seat; Alan Lowenthal, who is running for a Long Beach-area seat; and Scott Peters, a San Diego-area candidate.
Takano and Ruiz are both in tightly contested races that have captured national attention, as both parties battle for control of the House of Representatives.
One at a time, Clinton grasped and held high Takano’s and Ruiz’s hands before praising them. He noted Ruiz, a Coachella Valley emergency room physician, helped out in Haiti following its devastating earthquake.
Ruiz understands “that people do die because they have no health insurance,” Clinton said.
Lots of politicians talk about education, but Takano, a schoolteacher, has delivered classroom results, Clinton said. Takano’s experience as a Riverside Community College trustee will be valuable in retooling job-training programs to put more people back to work, Clinton added.
Takano was one of the first speakers and drew boos when he mentioned “the Republicans in Congress.”
“Don’t boo! Vote!” Takano said. Later, he described the election as a choice between “common-sense California values” and Washington ideology.
Ruiz told his story of rising from humble beginnings — he said he asked small businesses to contribute toward his college expenses and his guidance counselor paid for his college application — to graduate from Harvard University and return to home to be a doctor.
“This election is about reviving the American dream (and the notion that) with hard work, all things are possible,” he said. “Together, as a community, as a village, we will revive that American dream.
Takano is running against Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, a Republican in the new 41st Congressional District. The district includes Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris and Jurupa Valley.
Ruiz is running against incumbent Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, in the 36th Congressional District, which includes Hemet, San Jacinto, Banning, Beaumont and Riverside County’s desert communities.
Ruiz, a relative political newcomer, has support from the national Democratic Party and outside groups that have spent six figures to back him, prompting political handicappers to view the race as a toss-up or potential Ruiz upset.
The GOP and its allies have come to Bono Mack’s aid as well. In total, outside spending in the 36th has eclipsed $1.5 million.
By contrast, outside spending in the 41st race has been quiet, at least so far.
But the district leans slightly Democratic, prompting political analysts to presume Takano has the upper hand.