Despite the clouds covering the city Friday evening, it was a star-studded night in Los Angeles for the Democratic Party.
California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown spoke at UCLA with just a few weeks to go before the Nov. 2 election, bringing with him some of the state’s and nation’s most prominent Democrats: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor and candidate for state lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom and former President Bill Clinton.
The rally was one of many stops high-profile Democrats have made across the country in recent weeks in an attempt to drum up support for the party.
“Are we going to take back California?” Villaraigosa yelled to an already-screaming crowd as the other Democrats took the stage shortly after 8 p.m.
The three spent about an hour speaking to thousands of listeners gathered in UCLA’s Dickson Court, trading compliments and slamming their opponents in an effort to rally a higher youth turnout on Nov. 2.
“It is not enough to have voted for a new president if you will not help him govern and stick behind the members of Congress who stood for him,” Clinton said. “What you must do is pick leaders who know how to be both frugal and in the future business. You’ve got to put California back in the future business.”
The future was a common theme throughout the evening, as all three men spoke to interests particular to a college-aged audience: the environment, the economy and education.
A product of the University of California system himself, Brown emphasized the need for public higher education to be available to all students, regardless of their backgrounds.
“[We need to] get every kid in this school that can qualify,” Brown said. “Everyone. Whether they’re documented or not.”
Clinton emphasized the importance of green technologies in revitalizing California’s economy, saying both Brown and Newsom would continue their support of such technologies, unlike their opponents.
Clinton alluded to Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and her proposal to suspend AB 32 — a law aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions — until the state unemployment rate drops.
“You stick with this greenhouse gas commitment you got; don’t you repeal that,” Clinton said. “It is the key to your economic future.”
The best place for California’s future, Newsom and Clinton said, is in Brown’s hands.
“We are lucky in this state,” Newsom said. “Jerry Brown has nothing to prove to anybody. He was twice governor of our great state, he has held every key office, he has accomplished more than folks like me could every dream of. But he’s willing to take the years where he could be writing a memoir and instead, he’s going to be writing the future of our great state.”
“One thing you can count on: I’m not writing any damn memoir,” Brown said, to laughter and cheers from the crowd.
Brown has been a political opponent to both Newsom and Clinton during his years as a politician; he opposed Clinton in the 1992 presidential primary and ran against Newsom in the Democratic primary for governor — during which Clinton endorsed Newsom.
Their past differences were put aside on Friday, however, as the three sought to get a bigger message across to the audience: Young voters need to show up on Nov. 2.
“I’ve lived my life. It’s been great. I just want you to have the same chances I did,” Clinton said. “I am pleading with you; you need to go out and tell everyone who is not here tonight that any college student in the state of California that doesn’t vote in this election is committing malpractice on your own future.”
Clinton’s appearance at UCLA — along with President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to USC on Friday — sends a strong message to student voters, said Aaron Perman, a senior majoring in business administration who is the vice president of USC College Democrats.
“The college demographic is a lot of what drove Obama to win and was the backbone of the volunteer effort,” said Perman, who attended the rally at UCLA. “I think it’s recognizing that and recognizing that students still have a lot of things to care about. It shows students, ‘Hey, you really can make a difference.’”
Michael Maulano, a junior majoring in political science and finance director of the College Democrats who also attended Friday’s event, agreed.
“It’s an extremely important election for youth,” he said. “The problems facing the country and the issues we face today are certainly not going to wait. They’re going to affect us for a long time.”
Excerpts from the Rally:
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom:
Gubernatorial Candidate Jerry Brown:
President Bill Clinton (Part 1):
President Bill Clinton (Part 2):