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Former President Bill Clinton visits South Texas on the eve of November midterms

Former President Bill Clinton greets supporters in Laredo, Texas on November 7th, 2022.
Courtesy Cuellar campaign
Former President Bill Clinton greets supporters in Laredo, Texas on November 7th, 2022.

Former President Bill Clinton visited Laredo and Edinburg on Monday to campaign for Democratic candidates in three competitive House districts that were once reliably blue.

“We’re gonna be for Michelle Vallejo. We’re gonna be for Congressman [Vicente] Gonzalez. We’re gonna reelect Henry Cuellar because we want to build and we want to grow together,” said Clinton.

According to Cook Political Report, all three districts are considered to be tossups, with District 28 leaning Democrat, and Districts 15 and 34 leaning Republican.

Clinton’s first stop was in Laredo, stumping for nine-time incumbent Congressman Henry Cuellar — who narrowly made it out of the primary against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.

The establishment Democrats backed Cuellar throughout this year and have lately made their trips to South Texas to back him in the primaries. But this year, Cuellar faces a stiff Republican challenge from former Ted Cruz staffer, Cassy Garcia.

Despite a trend of Republicans gaining popularity in South Texas, Cuellar reminded voters why they have supported Democrats and how important their vote is on Election Day.

“Who created social security? It was the Democrats. Who created Medicare? Democrats. Who created the voting rights? Democrats,” Cuellar said.

Congressman Henry Cuellar (left) with Former President Bill Clinton (right)
Congressman Henry Cuellar (left) with Former President Bill Clinton (right)

Ramiro Garza Jr., elected Mayor of Edinburg in 2021, spoke about President Clinton’s long history with the Rio Grande Valley.

“During his years in the White House, he created a program called the empowerment zones. And some of you in the audience remember that. That’s what helped our area get out of where we were on in the 1990s,” said Garza Jr.

In Edinburg, Clinton stumped for Michelle Vallejo, Democratic nominee for the 15th Congressional District.

Vallejo is running against Republican Monica De La Cruz who will be hosting a watch party in McAllen, Texas on election night. Governor Greg Abbott will also spend Election Day in McAllen and is scheduled to give election night remarks at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center.

Vallejo said with all eyes on the border right now mainly due to politics around immigration, she wanted to draw attention to health care.

With Edinburg less than 25 miles from the Mexico border, Vallejo referenced how some RGV locals travel to Mexico to receive affordable healthcare.

“South Texas deserves good quality healthcare that is affordable and that is right here. No one should be forced to go to Mexico. No one should be forced to drive hours and hours away to get the care that they need,” said Vallejo.

Clinton also endorsed Congressman Vicente Gonzales, who was recently drawn out of District 15 in redistricting — a seat he’s held for five years.

Gonzales is vying for the District 34 seat that Republican Congressman Mayra Flores recently won in a special election with 50.9% of the vote.

Clinton said the outcome of these November midterm elections could influence South Texas for years to come.

“If we cut Medicare, if we cut social security, if we stop the protections for preexisting conditions, by going after the Affordable Care Act again — not we, they — if those things happen, then this place won’t look the same in three years,” said Clinton

Clinton said that community members have to take these issues seriously, and pointed to his wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an example.

“I remember when Hillary said they were gonna repeal Roe v. Wade, and literally, the people who were in the media business, they laughed at her.”

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Kayla Padilla produces for The Source and is also a news reporter for Texas Public Radio.