EDINBURG, Texas — Former President Bill Clinton swept election night across South Texas in support of Democratic congressional candidates and warned voters that Republicans are “coming for you.”
Clinton’s action the day before Election Day was intended to hold onto the Latino-dominant ground that Democrats have held in South Texas for a century, and which could become more Republican.
Clinton praised the GOP for “hard to beat in a bumper sticker campaign” at an afternoon rally for Michelle Vallejo, the Democratic candidate in Texas’s 15th congressional district.
Vallejo is one of three South Texas Democrats locked in highly competitive congressional races with Republicans who are Latina.
Vallejo faces Republican Monica De La Cruz, who has been backed by former President Donald Trump and is considered the GOP’s best shot at winning a seat in the area.
The districts have been firmly democratic for more than a century. Legislative reshuffles have pushed their boundaries over the years and the 15th congressional district was drawn to favor the Republicans.
“This is South Texas, fighting for South Texas, and I need everyone in this fight with me,” Vallejo said at the event on Monday.
The races have drawn millions of dollars as the GOP has tried to bolster the breakthrough it made among Latino voters in South Texas in the 2020 election and as Democrats pulled back to hold on to a key voter base in Texas.
Clinton urged the predominantly Latino crowd to back down on what he said had been millions of dollars spent on GOP campaigns to “make it look like our home is a place of chaos,” citing attacks on Democrats and President Joe Biden.
Clinton praised gains and growth in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. He told voters that Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s plan, should he become Speaker of the House, is to scrap Medicare, undermine the Affordable Care Act, prevent the US from negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs, and limit insulin drug prices to $35 a month.
McCarthy, R-Calif., was in South Texas on Sunday for an event on behalf of the three Republican Latina congressional candidates calling themselves the Triple Threat.
Clinton said, “They’re coming for you, and you better believe it.”
He told the crowd in Edinburgh that he had met the family of one of the children who had died in the massacre at the Uvalde school on May 24, and said, “I wanted to cry.”
He reminded the crowd that he signed a ban on assault weapons when he was president. Several families of the Uvalde victims have pushed for tougher gun laws that most Republicans opposed in Congress and the Texas legislature.
Republicans have criticized Clinton’s swing through the region, citing the sex scandal that led to his impeachment.
In a statement, the Republican Party recalled that Clinton did not win Texas when he ran for president.
“We are thrilled that Bill Clinton is campaigning for the Texas Democrats. Nobody knows how to win Texas better than Bill Clinton,” GOP spokeswoman Macarena Martinez said in a statement.
Clinton was also in Laredo on behalf of Rep. Henry Cuellar, a nine-year-old congressman in an exciting race with Republican Cassy García, and of Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who opposed Republican Rep. Mayra Flores is located in Texas’ 34th congressional district.
Cuellar, battling the sentiment that the country is on the wrong track, urged voters to withhold Democratic successes.
“If you want to live like a Republican, vote for a Democrat,” Cuellar said before reminding them that it was Democrats who brought them Social Security and Obamacare, among other things.
Days before Clinton arrived, García criticized his visit in a tweet, saying that Cuellar brought a “sinvergüenza” (a shameless person) to South Texas “to try to take down a young woman”.
The region has been inundated with television commercials from both sides that have been highly negative. NBC News polls show that voters are entering this election with a high degree of anger directed at both parties.
Responding to sentiment during the rallies, Clinton said it was time to treat each other with decency and “build an economy we can share.”
“This is not Halloween. We don’t have to take their scary picture today or tomorrow,” he said. “We are better than that.”
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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com