Bill Clinton pushes Ill. Dems at Chicago rally

October 26, 2010 (WASHINGTON)

President Bill Clinton attended a rally at the Palmer House downtown to promote Democratic candidates in Illinois.

The former president left office with a booming economy and a budget surplus. On Tuesday he warned against a return to Republican rule that he says would threaten the existence of the nation's middle class.

"You want to build a middle class America. You got to vote for the Democrats and you've got to tell every young American to do it," said Clinton.

When the former president began his speech, the Palmer House ballroom was half filled with enthusiastic mostly Democratic Party workers. By the time Clinton finished, the candidates he promoted had been standing behind him for nearly an hour and the room was at best a third filled.

"If I were here, I would vote for all of them and I hope you will," said Clinton.

Clinton appeared with the Democratic candidates pre-election polls suggest are either trailing or involved in neck-and-neck races with Republicans.

"Mark Kirk and the Republican Party are saying we need to take our country back, that's their new slogan…take our country back, back to where?" said Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Alexi Giannoulias.

"We don't want to go back to a time when the stock market crashed and the crazy, wakcy policies that put a million people out of their homes," said Democrat Debbie Halvorson of Crete, Ill.

"You know the crowd that came after President Clinton ran the economy into the ditch...we lost eight million jobs under his successor," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

Speaker after speaker at the rally blamed the country's and Illinois' economic woes on the Republican administration of George W. Bush. State Republican chairman Pat Brady disagreed, saying Illinois' problems are of local origin.

"It's not about national issues. It's not about national figures. I don't think he probably offered any solutions today...we're talking about local issues," said Brady.

Back at the Palmer House, the Democrats recruited volunteers to get out the vote between now and the end of Election Day.

The biggest push will happen on Saturday when the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will lead a public rally in Midway Plaisance Park. He'll be joined by the spoken word artist and actor Common and other celebrities in a very direct appeal to young voters.

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