The day before New York voters would cast their ballots in the Democratic presidential primary, former President Bill Clinton worked his way across Western New York in a last-minute effort to rally support for his wife, Hillary Clinton.
In Erie County, he was joined by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, all of them pushing potential supporters to get to the polls Tuesday.
“We need every single vote,” Bill Clinton told a group of supporters Monday at the Erie County Democratic Party headquarters in Larkinville on Seneca Street in Buffalo. “How this comes out tomorrow will shape the rest of this primary campaign and how we move into the future.”
Clinton’s visit – the second to the area in two weeks – came on the eve of the most significant presidential primaries that New York has seen in decades. The timing and competitiveness of both the Republican and Democratic races are making the state’s primaries matter for the first time in about a quarter-century.
“Normally, when it comes to us, it’s over,” Cuomo said. “It’s all going to come down to turnout tomorrow.”
And though recent polls show front-runner Hillary Clinton leading Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the state’s Democratic delegates, her local supporters weren’t taking that edge for granted. “Anyone who isn’t anxious before an election is living in a dream world,” Bill Clinton said in remarks to the media.
The former president started the day rallying supporters and thanking volunteers who were working the phones at party headquarters. He signed a book for one volunteer and took selfies with several others.
Campaign workers urged supporters to spend the day before the vote canvassing neighborhoods and knocking on doors to drum up potential voters.
“I know you all know this, but you could be the most important part of this campaign,” Clinton told the group.
The former president then visited residents at the St. John Tower assisted-living complex on Michigan Avenue in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt section, where he apologized for interrupting their morning bingo game to campaign. “Tomorrow the big prize is who New York will nominate for president of the United States,” Clinton said, referring to Tuesday’s voting.
Local officials focused their remarks on Hillary Clinton’s support for the region when she was a senator, crediting her for helping create jobs and directing funding to the area’s economic-development efforts. “Hillary was a great champion for this state,” Cuomo said. “Hillary delivered for New York.”
The former president, who had campaigned in Depew on April 5, then made a spontaneous stop off his itinerary to grab tea at Spot Coffee on Delaware Avenue before his motorcade went to Alton’s Restaurant in Cheektowaga. He worked the lunch crowd, shaking hands with nearly every customer, stopping to take pictures and sampling french fries.
Leaving the restaurant, Clinton and his Secret Service bodyguards stopped traffic so he could cross busy Walden Avenue and talk with Verizon workers who were on strike outside of the company’s retail outlet.
Clinton told the workers that they are the backbone of the country, and wished them luck in their labor dispute. “I love seeing the flag here,” he told them. The former president continued his campaigning with an afternoon stop in Rochester.