PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

October 26, 2012

Clinton travels to Beaumont to endorse Lampson

Josh Brown
The Port Arthur News

BEAUMONT — Former President Bill Clinton covered a multitude of topics and berated tea party Republicans in his endorsement speech for Nick Lampson at a last-minute Democratic rally at Lamar University Thursday night.

Clinton’s staff called to arrange the assembly Wednesday afternoon, giving the Lampson campaign less than 24 hours to organize and publicize the event. More than 3,000 people were in attendance at Vincent-Beck Baseball Field, where the rally was held, according to a Lampson staff member.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout on exceptionally short notice,” Lampson said after the event.

Clinton covered higher-education, balancing the budget, Medicaid, energy dependency, and tax cuts during his 25-minute speech, never missing a chance to call out the Republican’s most right-wing group.

“We believe the polarization in Washington is caused primarily by the tea party crowd,” he said. “They’ve got their mind made up before you put the evidence out. They believe they can disregard arithmetic in favor of illusion.”

Clinton outlined how Republicans want to change the Medicare system by providing vouchers and revisited the tax cuts given to the super-rich in the previous administration.

“For people who hate the government for as much as they claim to, they sure spend a lot of time and money trying to get a hold of it,” he said of the tea party.

Beckoning the college members in the audience, Clinton discussed the changes to federal pell grants and student loans, saying a Republican administration would undo all of that work.

More than 12 million jobs will be created if the current economic plan stays on its course, Clinton said, but both parties have to work together in order for the government to function correctly.

“There is not a single successful country on the planet that does not have both a strong private economy and an effective government working together,” he said.

Clinton highlighted the similarities he shares with Lampson, who is running for Congressional District 14, including how their families both used social security benefits after a parents’ death when they were young.

“We believe a philosophy of shared responsibility and shared prosperity is a whole lot better than a trickle down,” he said.

Clinton admitted he and Lampson did not meet eye-to-eye on every issue during their shared time in office, but he knows Lampson made informed decisions.

“He’ll work with anybody with an idea worth listening to,” Clinton said. “He will keep working until he gets something done.”

Lampson called Congress broken and said it is up to citizens to repair the damage.

“We are so much stronger when we work together,” he said. “We need to vote.”

State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, and Thomas Sigee, who is running for Jefferson County Tax-Assessor Collector, gave brief speeches before Clinton and Lampson took the stage.

Clinton, who endorsed congressional candidate Pete Gallego in San Antonio before flying into Beaumont, will start campaigning with President Barack Obama Monday as election day nears.

E-mail: jbrown@panews.com

Twitter: @joshnathanbrown