Bill Clinton made his case here Saturday for New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the endangered chair of the House Democratic campaign arm, in a nearly half-hour speech in which the former president attacked Republicans over plans to slash social services and the increasing vitriol of right-wing political rhetoric.
Clinton’s appearance on the campaign trail for Maloney – a longtime ally, friend and former staffer – reflected the anxiety engulfing New York Democrats as Election Day nears. Maloney is in a tough fight against Republican assemblyman Mike Lawler as he runs for a sixth term representing a redrawn Lower Hudson Valley district north of New York City that now-President Joe Biden would have carried by 10 points in 2020.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which Maloney chairs, announced earlier this week it was spending $605,000 to back the congressman, with a new ad going up Tuesday that attacked Lawler and “MAGA extremists.”
Speaking alongside Maloney on Saturday, Clinton argued that Democratic lawmakers and Biden had played a poor hand well and that Republicans, should they regain control of Congress, would only make the current challenges, such as inflation and crime, worse.
Clinton acknowledged some voters’ frustration and fears but insisted that the GOP had no plans to fix the country’s problems – only stoking further anger and division.
“If you vote (Maloney) out and the other guy gets in, and Kevin McCarthy becomes the speaker of the House, he at least had the guts to tell us what his platform is,” Clinton said. “His platform is to cut Medicare, to cut Social Security. It’s unbelievable. And go back to letting the drug companies charge whatever they want for drugs and take the cap off insulin prices and to cut back on aid to Ukraine and get back in bed with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”
Clinton offered a lengthy defense of US involvement in Ukraine, describing it as a moral imperative and noting that many wealthy European nations in worse economic shape than the US were staying the course.
“America has lower interest rates, lower inflation rates and lower unemployment rates than all the wealthy European countries. And they’re sticking by Ukraine. And we should too,” he said.
Clinton also touted, at length and in detail, the reasons for inflation today – it’s a supply-side issue, he insisted, caused by disruption stemming from the pandemic. He argued more drilling in the US wouldn’t lower energy prices given the country’s “inadequate refining capacity” but new infrastructure would. All these issues, Clinton said, were going to be solved – though not “overnight” – by legislation such as the CHIPS Act, written and delivered by Democrats.
Clinton – and Maloney before him – was interrupted repeatedly by hecklers who shouted anti-vaccine misinformation and, when the former president was speaking, accused him of “sexually trafficking kids.”
“You ought to run down to my house and maybe I can get Secret Service and give you a tour of the basement,” Clinton quipped back, before addressing what’s known as “Pizzagate” – a widely debunked conspiracy theory from 2016 that claimed the former president and his wife, Hillary Clinton, along with Democratic operatives, were running a pedophilia ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, DC.
“They said the child trafficking ring was being run out of a pizza joint in Washington. There’s no basement, there’s no attic, there’s no storage in the back. So they found a way to make these kids about six inches tall before they got back to normal size,” he said.
Clinton paused, then added: “This is why I support more spending on mental health, too.”
The former president concluded with a tribute to Maloney, calling on the voters in the audience to “stick up” for him and other Democrats who “took office in a terrible time and (are) making it better.”
“That’s my case. I’m totally biased. I love this man,” Clinton said. “I plead totally guilty, but I got a pretty good argument to make – and I didn’t have to scream to do it.”