Former U.S. President Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife, Hillary, in several Bay Area cities on Monday, including Richmond.
At about 4:30 p.m., Clinton spoke before several hundred supporters and a few hecklers in the courtyard of the Richmond Art Center on Barrett Avenue, one day before the California primary. He also made campaign stops in Antioch, Hayward, Oakland and San Francisco on Monday.
Before his arrival in Richmond, Mayor Tom Butt told the crowd he suspects Clinton might be the first U.S. president, current or former, to visit the city, although that hasn’t been confirmed.
Clinton’s supporters, which included a number of prominent Richmond officials and community leaders, lined up outside of the Richmond Art Center more than an hour before the former President was scheduled to speak.
A few protesters joined them by holding signs denouncing a possible Hillary Clinton presidency. Among the protesters was Richmond Planning Commissioner Marilyn Langlois, a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which supports Bernie Sanders.
Local officials who came in support of Clinton’s visit included Councilmembers Nat Bates, Vinay Pimple (pictured below) and Jael Myrick. Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia were guest speakers. Prominent leaders of local city groups and nonprofits also attended in support of Clinton or the event, including 23rd Merchants Association President Rosa Lara (pictured above, on right) and Richmond Main Street Initiative Executive Director Amanda Elliott.
Clinton arrived about a half hour late for the Richmond campaign stop and people eagerly awaited under a bright and warm sun. When he arrived, the crowd was welcoming, although Clinton did spent a good amount of time debating a few hecklers about his past record and policies.
Clinton also shared a fun story about his family’s connection with Mayor Tom Butt’s family.
“Mayor Butt grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas. That’s where Hillary and I were married,” Clinton said. “And when Hillary came to be with me, we were teaching at the University of Arkansas law school. She wanted to start a legal aid for these hillbillies who had no access, poor working people who never had any access….to legal aid. She had to get Mayor Butt’s father to approve the program. He was responsible for giving her a chance.”
Clinton’s campaign message was obviously in line with wife Hillary’s. He depicted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as racist, race-baiting, divisive and inexperienced. Hillary Clinton is the most experienced candidate with a proven track record and an ability to reach across the aisle and gain consensus, her husband said.
Reporter Mike “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney contributed to this report.