Politics

Bill Clinton Rallies Hillary Backers in Final N.Y. Primary Push

In Buffalo, the former president presses for 'every single vote'

Bill Clinton rallied volunteers in Buffalo, N.Y., on Monday. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Former President Bill Clinton visited western New York on Monday for the second time in two weeks, rallying volunteers for his wife's presidential bid.  

In a final push ahead of Tuesday's New York primary, Clinton addressed a packed room at Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters in Buffalo.  The former secretary of state has been leading Bernie Sanders by double digits in recent polls. But Bill Clinton's appearance highlights the importance of energizing her base of support upstate.  

"We need you," Clinton told the crowd. "We need every single vote.”  

The Erie County Democratic Committee hosted the Clinton campaign at its headquarters in the Larkinville neighborhood, a burgeoning business district on the outskirts of downtown.  

Clinton first stopped by a small room with about a dozen volunteers working the phones at tables, and thanked them for their work. Other volunteers lined the walls of the room, taking selfies and shaking hands with the former president as he worked his way around the tables.  

He then addressed the crowd of roughly 100 volunteers in a small room adorned with Hillary Clinton campaign posters. The excitement among the group was palpable, with volunteers holding up their phones and cheering loudly when Clinton spoke.  

New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Clinton at the rally, along with the city's mayor, Byron Brown, Rep. Brian Higgins, and other Democratic officials. Cuomo echoed what Clinton supporters in Buffalo have been saying about the candidate: "We know what she can do.”  

The surprise rally was Clinton's second appearance in western New York this month. Nearly 1,000 people packed a recent event in the suburb of Depew to hear the former president, who has long enjoyed support in the Buffalo area.  

"When times were tough for him in Washington, this was the first area he came to," Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a brief interview Saturday.  The former congresswoman recalled attending a rally for the former president in 1999 when he and his wife came to Buffalo amid his impeachment trial over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  

“Buffalo’s always been there for him, and certainly for Secretary Clinton as well,” Hochul said.  

This time, the former president reminded volunteers of her work bringing jobs back to the Rust Belt city when she served in the Senate from New York from 2001 to 2009.  

“If you think that a lot of what Hillary did for economic development not just in Buffalo, but in all sections of New York, when there was a Republican Congress and and a Republican president, think what she can do for America when she is the president of the United States,” he said to cheers.  

Bill Clinton pointed out that New York's presidential primary falls on a different day than those for the state's other races, so the presidential campaigns are the only ones on the streets getting people to the polls. Both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns knocked on doors over the weekend, and a lead Clinton organizer encouraged those at the Monday rally to take a few hours and knock on more doors.  

The former president is one of several campaign surrogates who have come to Buffalo. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., was in town last week, and Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, a western New York native, campaigned for the former secretary on Sunday. Secretary Clinton herself recently held a rally in the city as well.  

Contact Bowman at  bridgetbowman@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter  @bridgetbhc . Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.