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Bill Clinton and other Democrats make last-minute appeals in heavily Latino South Texas amid high-stakes races

The Latino dominant ground that Democrats have held for a century could be becoming more Republican.

EDINBURG, Texas — Former President Bill Clinton made an election eve sweep through South Texas in support of Democratic congressional candidates, warning voters that Republicans “are coming for you.”

Clinton’s appearance the day before Election Day was aimed at holding on to the Latino dominant ground that Democrats have held for a century in South Texas, which could be becoming more Republican.

Clinton credited the GOP for being “hard to beat in a bumper sticker campaign” at an afternoon rally for Michelle Vallejo, the Democratic candidate in Texas’ 15th Congressional District.

Vallejo is one of three South Texas Democrats locked in highly competitive congressional races with Republicans who are Latina.

Vallejo faces Republican Monica De La Cruz, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and who is considered the GOP’s best chance to win a seat in the area.

The districts have been solidly Democratic for more than a century. Legislative redistricting has shifted their boundaries over the years, and the 15th Congressional District was drawn to favor Republicans.

“This is South Texas fighting for South Texas, and I need everybody in this fight with me,” Vallejo said at the event Monday.

The races have drawn millions of dollars as the GOP has tried to solidify inroads among South Texas Latino voters that it made in the 2020 election and as Democrats have pushed back to hold on to an important Texas voter base.

Clinton urged the mostly Latino crowd to push back against what he said were millions of dollars spent by GOP campaigns to “make it seem our home is a place of chaos,” referring to attacks on Democrats and President Joe Biden.

Clinton praised gains and growth in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. He told voters that Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s plan, should he become House speaker, is to cut Medicare, gut the Affordable Care Act, prevent the U.S. from bargaining for lower prescription drug prices and cap insulin drug prices at $35 a month.

McCarthy, R-Calif., was in South Texas on Sunday for an event on behalf of the three Republican Latina congressional candidates who call themselves the Triple Threat.

Clinton said, “They are coming for you, and you better believe it.”

He told the Edinburg crowd that he had met with the family of one of the children who were killed in the Uvalde school massacre on May 24, saying, “I wanted to weep.”

He reminded the crowd that he signed an assault weapons ban when he was president. Several of the families of the Uvalde victims have been calling for stricter gun laws that most Republicans have opposed in Congress and the Texas Legislature.

Republicans have been criticizing Clinton’s swing through the region, referring to the sex scandal that led to his impeachment.

In a statement, the Republican Party recalled that Clinton did not win Texas when he ran for president.

“We think it’s great that Bill Clinton is campaigning for Texas Democrats. Nobody knows how to win Texas better than Bill Clinton,” GOP spokeswoman Macarena Martinez said in a statement.

Clinton also was in Laredo on behalf of Rep. Henry Cuellar, a nine-term congressman in a tight race with Republican Cassy García, and of Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who faces Republican Rep. Mayra Flores in Texas’ 34th Congressional District.

Cuellar, fighting sentiment that the country is on the wrong track, urged voters to remember Democratic successes.  

“If you want to live like a Republican, vote for a Democrat,” Cuellar said before he reminded them it was Democrats who brought them Social Security and Obamacare, among other things.

Days before Clinton arrived, García criticized his visit in a tweet, saying Cuellar was bringing a “sinvergüenza” (a shameless person) to South Texas “to try to take down a young woman.”

The region has been inundated with television ads from both sides that have been highly negative. NBC News polling shows voters are entering this election with high levels of anger targeted at both parties.

Clinton hit on the sentiment at the rallies, saying it was time to treat one another with decency and "build an economy we can share."

"This is not Halloween. We do not have to take their scary picture today or tomorrow," he said. "We are better than that."

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