Bill Clinton: Willing to Shake Every Hand in Texas

Feb 23, 2008 10:48pm

ABC News’ Sarah Amos reports: Bill Clinton is a man on a mission today. For those keeping score, the former President beat all the actual candidates in number of events today, holding six across the western half of Texas. His message for voters has been brief and focused almost entirely on the reasons why his wife Hillary is the best Democratic candidate.

At one of four rallies he attended in El Paso this afternoon, Clinton did take a break from singing his wife’s praises just long enough to point out that this election isn’t all about inspiration and hope often associated with her opponent, Barack Obama.

"In order to be a good president you got to define what you hope for and how you are going to be able to keep faith for Americans by turning hopes into realities in other peoples lives," Clinton told a crowd in an El Paso parking lot. Of course, he was also quick to point out that his hometown is a place called Hope and how his candidacy was one of hope, sending a bit of a mixed message to the crowd.

Clinton also took an opportunity to take offense at those who say past experience or involvement in political fights is a negative. "I never thought, I never thought, that public service didn’t matter. I never believed that what you had done in your past life was irrelevant to what kind of president you would be. I never disrespected people because they had served and cooperated when they could, but fought for you when they could, too. Once in a while you got to fight for people if you want them to get a fair deal and have a brighter future."

Clinton began the day in Corpus Christi and then headed up to Killeen, before rounding out the day with a jammed schedule in El Paso.

As the importance of Texas and Ohio becomes clearer by the day, Hillary Clinton’s campaign obviously sees the former president’s rock star status (especially among the Hispanic community) as one of their strongest assets. The usually verbose Clinton has been talking for just 10 or 15 minutes at many events, focusing heavily on the importance of early voting and participating in both the primary and the caucus.

Clinton has become extremely detailed in his plea for voter turnout.

"If you vote early or you vote on March the 4th in the popular election, 65 percent of the delegates will be selected to the national convention. But 35 percent of the delegates for the national convention will be selected Tuesday night, March 4, at 8000 Percent Convention all across this state," Clinton told the crowd in Killeen this morning, adding, "The doors open at 7 and they close at 7:15. It would be tragic if Hillary were to win this election in the daytime and somebody were to come in at night and take it away."

Clinton has also been choosing to spend a majority of his time shaking hands and signing posters — something that seems to resonate with the crowds as much as any speech does. Last night at an event in Corpus Christi, Clinton caused a mob scene that lasted over an hour. While today’s crowd was a bit more controlled, the excitement in the air was the same.

And that excitement is what the Clinton campaign will need to carry them through the next week and a half of campaigning. So instead of heading back East early in the week for fundraising, as originally planned, the former president will make a quick two-day trip to Ohio, and then it is right back to Texas. If Clinton could, he would shake the hand of every Democrat in Texas before March 4 — and if he has it his way, he just might.

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