Bill Clinton stumps for congressional candidate, family
April 10th, 2014
03:17 PM ET
4 months ago

Bill Clinton stumps for congressional candidate, family

Philadelphia (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton showcased two types of politics on Thursday - electoral politics and in-law relations.

Standing in a ballroom flanked by campaign signs in downtown Philadelphia, Clinton proudly endorsed would-be Rep. Marjorie Margolies for Congress, telling the audience that if the former congresswoman returned to Congress, she would "make you proud, she will vote right… she will do things that stand up she needs to stand up and she will cooperate when we need cooperation."

On the one hand, the endorsement is purely political.

Margolies, who represented Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District for one term while Clinton was president and is now running for her seat again, cast a seat-costing vote to pass the President's 1993 budget.

But the endorsement was also a bit of family politicking.

Marc Mezvinsky, Margolies' son, married Chelsea Clinton, the former first family's only daughter, in 2010. And at Thursday's event, the family connections were obvious.

"I want to get something out of the way," Clinton said at the top of his remarks. "I would be here if her son was not my son-in-law."

Clinton went on to give a policy-focused speech, discussing immigration, civil rights, gun control, student loan debt and health care.

The speech also touched upon the past. Clinton said his 1993 budget and the boom that followed it showed "supply side economic defied arithmetic." The former President said Margolies would be a congresswoman who stopped "making yesterday's mistakes and start thinking about tomorrow."

Clinton also said that he wasn't endorsing Margolies solely because she took a tough vote for him two decades ago.

"I am not coming here saying vote for her because 20 years ago she saved the economy and gave up her seat to do it," Clinton said. "You will never hear her [Margolies] say you have to vote for me for what I did then. What I hear her say is what I did shows what kind of member of Congress I will be if you give me another chance."

In 1993, Margolies, who at that time was married and known as Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, was a first-term Pennsylvania congresswoman representing a contested district. After telling reporters she wouldn't vote for Clinton's budget – which included tax increases on the wealthy – the President called and lobbied her personally. Margolies changed her mind and voted for the controversial proposal.

The 1993 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act passed by just one vote, and Margolies-Mezvinsky was heralded by Democrats for backing the measure. While Democrats in the House were elated, some Republicans chanted "Goodbye Marjorie" from the House floor.

Local reaction to her vote was fierce. In a 2009 interview with the Daily Beast, Margolies recalled how she was received at events during her 1994 re-election bid.

"When I went to town-hall meetings, I had to be escorted by the police," she said. "There were kids holding signs saying 'LIAR.' ... I just painted a target on my chest."

Those Republicans who wished her goodbye in 1993 were right - Margolies-Mezvinsky was defeated in 1994.

But that wasn't because Clinton got her vote and then let her take the fall. At a December 13, 1993 event in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Clinton campaigned for Margolies, stating that if she "hadn't voted for that budget, we wouldn't be here celebrating economic progress or talking about entitlements. We'd still be back in Washington throwing mud ball at each other."

Margolies told CNN before the event that she didn't see Clinton's endorsement as a way to make up for her costly 1993 vote.

"I have lived with that vote for a long time," she said. "I thought it was the right thing to do and it proved to be the right thing to do. No one says that the 90s were not good and that is where it started. It was a very wise thing to do."

The two decade-old vote loomed large over the event. Multiple speakers who introduced Margolies said the vote took courage, including former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell who said she "looked into her political grave" but showed "the courage of a lion."

Margolies told CNN that while it was a "delight" to have Clinton stump for her – especially considering the fact they are in-laws – she plans to run the race based on her record.

"I am running on what I have done and I am running on what I hope to do," she said. "It is obviously a delight to have him here, but outside of all of that, I am signing the same note."

In addition to today's endorsement, Clinton has donated to the Margolies campaign. According to FEC reports, the former President – who is classified as "retired" – donated $2,600 on July 30, 2013.

Despite the presidential endorsement, the Pennsylvania race is far from a foregone conclusion.

Margolies is facing three other congressional hopefuls - State Sen. Daylin Leach, a progressive Democrat; Dr. Val Arkoosh, a physician and president of the National Physicians Alliance and State Rep. Brendan Boyle, a labor-backed Democrat who is endorsed by the Teamsters Union.

The primary is Tuesday, May 20.

The state's 13th District is currently represented by Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who has opted to vacate the seat in favor of running for governor against incumbent Republican Tom Corbett.


Filed under: 2014 • Bill Clinton • Marjorie Margolies • Pennsylvania
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    He's really worried that the Republicans might control Congress, if Hillary runs.

    April 10, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Marc Mezvinsky, Margolies' son, married Chelsea Clinton, the former first family's only daughter, in 2010. And at Thursday's event, the family connections were obvious.

    "I want to get something out of the way," Clinton said at the top of his remarks. "I would be here if her son was not my son-in-law."
    =====

    The New American Aristocracy !
    The first thing we missed after overthrowing the King of England was a Royal Family .

    April 10, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. TONE

    Rick McDaniel
    He's really worried that the Republicans might control Congress, if Hillary runs.

    Rick i have always read your comments on here, and you write like if you are having an aneurism please take care of yourself because i do not want you to get sick when the dems keep the senate, and take back the house.

    April 10, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. Silence DoGood

    @TONE
    Rick McDaniel
    He's really worried that the Republicans might control Congress, if Hillary runs.

    Rick i have always read your comments on here, and you write like if you are having an aneurism please take care of yourself because i do not want you to get sick when the dems keep the senate, and take back the house.
    ------–
    ...and start practicing "Madam President".

    April 10, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. just saying

    TONE
    -–
    Rick McDaniel
    He's really worried that the Republicans might control Congress, if Hillary runs.
    -–
    Rick i have always read your comments on here, and you write like if you are having an aneurism please take care of yourself because i do not want you to get sick when the dems keep the senate, and take back the house.
    --

    might want to consult that god of democrat predictors nate silver... 60-40% republicans take the senate. the house isn't even in play for the democrats, you are the only one delusional enough to think it is. ease up on that koolaide.

    April 10, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    just saying

    Dems only have to do one thing in the face of the constant ranting you and others do. DEMS GO VOTE! Take the GOTP down and out.

    April 10, 2014 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  7. swampfox

    Didn't Chelsea's father in-law Edward Mezvinsky spend several years in federal prison for defrauding hundreds of millions of dollars?

    April 10, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |