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Bill Clinton in Depew: New York primary could matter most

Former President Bill Clinton told a packed room of supporters at Grapevine Banquets in Depew this afternoon that the upcoming New York primary on April 19 "could matter most in this whole long process."

"The rest of this whole process comes down to New York," Clinton told an estimated 850 people gathered at the restaurant.

Clinton's appearance in Depew was one of three stops on a day-long swing through New York State in an attempt to drum up support for his wife. He was scheduled to appear in Rochester after leaving Erie County.

"I'm just here to say thank you for being so good to me and so good to Hillary when she was senator," Clinton said.

The former president touched on a variety of topics during the speech, including Hillary Clinton's plan to allow the refinancing of college loans and the problems that led to the 2008 financial crash.

"It's not establishment vs. reform," said Clinton, explaining his wife's many endorsements. "It's leadership."

He wrapped up his remarks shortly before 3:30 p.m. by telling the crowd that New York can send a message to Pennsylvania, California and the entire country that they need a "real proven leader."

Bill Clinton's campaign appearance drew a few dozen protesters outside the Depew restaurant, where Bernie Sanders supporters mixed with an anti-Clinton, pro-Donald Trump faction along Dick Road.

"This country is one brand of snake with two heads," said protester Rick Donovan of Buffalo. "That's why regular Joes are with Trump."

The April 19 primary is the first time in recent memory that both the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries are in play in New York.


From Depew, the former president headed to Rochester, where people had lined up before Clinton had even finished speaking in Buffalo.

The News' Tim O'Shei is on the scene:


4:13 p.m.: Clinton mingled with supporters after his speech in Depew before departing for Rochester.

3:48 p.m.: Supporters were already lined up outside the Laborers Union Local No. 435 Hall in Rochester as Clinton wrapped up his speech in Buffalo.


3:25 p.m.: See Bill Clinton's visit through the eyes of The News' photographers in this photo gallery.

Supporters line up at Grapevine Banquets to see to former President Bill Clinton campaign for his wife. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

3:05 p.m.: Clinton recycled one of his laugh lines from the morning's appearance at a Long Island restaurant after arriving in Depew.

The former president told supporters at both appearances that he was amused to read in The Buffalo News this morning that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was campaigning against his legacy as president.

"There was a funny article in the morning paper," Clinton told supporters in Depew.

Earlier in the day, he told supporters in Elmont: "I almost laughed my head off when I read it."

The story: "In many ways, Sanders taking on Bill Clinton as much as Hillary."

2:40 p.m.: Former President Bill Clinton began his remarks by telling the crowd, "I love this place!"

Clinton arrived shortly after 2:15 p.m.  at Grapevine Banquets, where a small crowd of protesters greeted his motorcade outside the restaurant. Inside, area Democratic leaders promised their support for Hillary Clinton as they kicked off the campaign event. Supporters cheered, "We want Bill."

"We're going to deliver for her" on primary day, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said.



2:34 p.m.: The crowd gets ready for Bill Clinton's appearance with chants of "We want Bill."

2:20 p.m.: Former President Bill Clinton has arrived at Grapevine Banquets in Depew to campaign for his wife for an appearance scheduled to begin shortly.

People packed the restaurant as Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner and County Executive Mark Poloncarz warmed up the standing-room-only crowd in anticipation of his arrival.

"Western New York is Clinton country," Poloncarz told the crowd.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster praised Clinton as a progressive pragmatic who's more action than talk. Meanwhile, outside, where a group of protesters had gathered, some hecklers turned to calls of "Slick Willie."

"It's time for a French revolution in our country," said Michael Bowen, a Clinton protester outside the event who said both Democrats and Republicans are in cahoots.

2:17 p.m. The motorcade arrives in Depew.

2:10 p.m. Bill Clinton deplanes and heads to Depew.

1:5o p.m. The scene outside the restaurant has been lively for more than an hour as supporters and protesters awaited the event.

Supporters for the Clinton campaign began lining up early. One supporter near the front of the line clutched a book of photographs from Clinton's years in the White House. Others shouted chants of "Hillary, Hillary" in an attempt to drown out about 20 protesters.

Nearby, Donald Trump supporters planted a banner in the snow that read, "Remember Benghazi."  A couple of people campaigning for Bernie Sanders held up signs at Dick Road and Walden.

Patrick Delaney, an organizer of anti-Clinton protesters at the Grapevine, held up a sign that read, "Hillary America does not want your Syrian refugees or Sharia Law."

1:48 p.m.: Clinton arrives at Prior Aviation.

1:32 p.m.: The stage is set inside Grapevine Banquets in Depew.

1 p.m.:  Security is heavy at Prior Aviation in Cheektowaga and at Grapevine Banquets in Depew ahead of Bill Clinton's scheduled arrival.


12:55 p.m.: As Bill Clinton was just wrapping up his remarks at a Long Island restaurant, people were already lined up outside the Grapevine in Depew.

Protesters started to arrive, as well.


12:05: Bill Clinton spoke in Elmont, where he told supporters he was amused by a story in today's Buffalo News that described the ways in which Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has used Bill Clinton's legacy in his campaign.

The story, which led today's print edition, is headlined, "In many ways, Sanders taking on Bill Clinton as much as Hillary."

"You know, I think this election has been very interesting," Bill Clinton told the packed room of supporters. "There was an article in the Buffalo paper today, I almost laughed my head off when I read it, but I've got to go up there when I leave you. It said, basically, in this primary, Hillary's opponent has spent more time running against me."

Clinton repeatedly circled back to his wife's work as a New York senator during his speech in Elmont, which was aired live here:

11:25 a.m. Bill Clinton kicked off his day on Long Island in Elmont this morning. Reporters at the restaurant described a packed house.

Bill Clinton's day in New York State

  • 11:15 a.m.: Speak at an campaign organizing event at the Vault Restaurant in Elmont.
  • 2:15 p.m.: Appearance at an organizing event at Grapevine Banquets, 333 Dick Road, Depew.
  • 5 p.m.: Speak at Laborers Union Local No. 435 Hall, 20 Fourth St., Rochester


Hillary Clinton is also scheduled to make a campaign stop in Buffalo on Friday, although no details have been announced.

The primary rundown

Just catching up? Here's a look at The News' recent primary coverage:

In many ways, Sanders is taking on Bill Clinton as much as Hillary
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton, but in many ways, he’s also running against her husband’s presidential legacy.

Sanders agrees to debate Clinton on April 14 in Brooklyn
Sen. Bernie Sanders has accepted Hillary Clinton’s offer of a debate on CNN on April 14, five days before the New York Democratic presidential primary.

Clinton, Sanders power up phone banks to get out the vote
With the state’s Democratic and Republican primaries a mere 15 days away, several presidential campaigns are already working to get out the vote in Western New York.

As New York primary nears, campaigns get in gear in Buffalo area
Former President Bill Clinton’s visit to Depew on Tuesday will be the latest in the continuing efforts of several presidential campaigns to get out the vote in Western New York.

Bill Clinton visit to Depew heads list of New York campaign events
See the line-up of Clinton's scheduled campaign events.

Clinton unveils manufacturing plan amid swipes from Sanders, GOP
Hillary Clinton on Friday unveiled a $10 billion plan to boost manufacturing nationwide, including an expansion of the solar energy industry. But she quickly found herself reminded of her support for past trade agreements and her unkept promise to bring 200,000 jobs to upstate New York.

Sanders brings hope for ‘revolution’ to N.Y.
“The Bern” came to the Bronx on Thursday night amid signs that the insurgent presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is catching fire across New York State less than three weeks before the April 19 Democratic primary.

Poll shows Sanders gaining ground against Clinton with New York Democrats
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to be closing the gap against Hillary Clinton as the April 19 Democratic presidential primary approaches, while developer Donald Trump is maintaining his big lead among Republicans in the state.

McCarthy: Crunch time for the GOP Back in June, when Donald Trump announced for president and promised a Southern wall to exclude Mexican “rapists,” the nation’s political establishment pronounced him a failure.

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