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Bill Clinton says Hillary would help homeowners

Former US president Bill Clinton waves to the crowd as he takes the stage on Monday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2008, at the Alex Spanos Center on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton. Lt. Governor John Garamendi is also pictured. (Modesto Bee/ Joan Barnett Lee)
Former US president Bill Clinton waves to the crowd as he takes the stage on Monday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2008, at the Alex Spanos Center on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton. Lt. Governor John Garamendi is also pictured. (Modesto Bee/ Joan Barnett Lee) Modesto Bee

STOCKTON -- Former President Bill Clinton made a tailor-made speech Monday afternoon for the Northern San Joaquin Valley on why voters should support his wife for the Democratic presidential nomination in the California primary.

Raspy in the final push of the primary campaign, the former president did not mention Sen. Barack Obama, whom polls have showed closing on Sen. Hillary Clinton in delegate-rich California.

Instead, Clinton emphasized his wife's ability to address the valley's housing crisis and her push for clean-energy jobs in rural areas. Those concepts played well to a boisterous crowd of about 4,000 people at the University of the Pacific's Spanos Center.

"Hillary's theory is that when you get in a hole, you stop digging," Clinton said. "That's what you want in a president."

Clinton said Hillary, if elected president, would push for freezing mortgage rates and foreclosures, and assist loanholders who had made payments in good faith.

The crowd was mostly made up of college students, campaign volunteers and union workers, with some crossover between the groups. Before Clinton spoke, a mariachi band of Modesto High School students was the event's soundtrack.

Band director Ricardo Paderes said he was skeptical when he got a call Sunday evening that said his band had been invited to play at a rally with the former president.

Once he determined that it was no joke, Paderes scurried to make a series of phone calls to students and school administrators to get all the clearances for the band to miss class Monday for a live civics lesson of sorts.

"I was standing the shower taking phone calls this morning," Paderes said. "I wasn't sure about the permission."

About 13 students were able to make the trip. Paderes said the rally was the largest event the group, a club called Mariachi Pantera, had played.

Earlier today in Sacramento, the former president ran through various points of his wife's platform, from increasing Pell Grants for college tuition to prioritizing diplomacy over force in world conflicts.

Clinton was barnstorming the state before the Tuesday California primary, the biggest prize among all the contests on Super Tuesday.

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