Bill Clinton in Bay Area to campaign

January 17, 2008 8:20:09 PM PST
Former President Bill Clinton came to Oakland Wednesday to talk about the mortgage crisis and ended-up facing some tough questions about the controversy over the rules for up-coming Nevada caucuses. He did talk about the mortgage crisis and Hillary Clinton's proposals to deal with it.

It was billed as a round table discussion and that's what it was with the former President saying what's needed is financial aid from the federal government.

"The most expensive way to handle this problem is to let the foreclosures occur. It is far better to refinance under terms the homeowner can afford than to repossess the houses," says Clinton.

Clinton told the audience that every foreclosure costs the community a quarter of a million dollars -- much of it in lost property value in the neighborhood.

"What Hillary wants to do is spend some taxpayer money now, a few billion dollars to give states and cities funds that they can put up," says Clinton.

Clinton told the audience that federal help now will keep the mortgage crisis from getting worse and Hillary Clinton has proposed a 60-day moratorium on foreclosures.

California's former State Controller, Steve Westly, says that it's a great idea, although he is now working for the Barack Obama campaign.

"I couldn't agree more with what the president said this morning. We have a housing crisis in this country and a credit crisis and it is worse than people now realize," says Westly.

Westly says it doesn't much matter that Hillary Clinton came up with her plan several days before the Obama camp announced similar measures to help stem the mortgage crisis.

"On this issue of the credit crunch you see a big issue to middle class Americans and lower class Americans."

University of San Francisco political scientist Robert Smith believes it does give the Clinton campaign an advantage.

"I think she's doing this less in terms of the nominations, but in preparations for the fall elections. To be able to say to the Republican opponents 'I had a plan early on. Congress didn't react. The President didn't react. I was out front'."

While her husband was in the Bay Area today, Hillary Clinton campaigned in Nevada. That's where Barack Obama spent his day as well. The polls in Nevada show a very close race heading into Saturday's caucuses.

Afterwords, I did ask Bill Clinton about a lawsuit that has been filed that is trying to block at large casino caucuses events from taking place. As you know, many of those workers have endorsed Barak Obama. A couple of days after those endorsements went out, supporters of Clinton came into court to stop those caucuses from taking place. When I asked him about it, he and I shared this exchange:

Clinton: "This is a one-man one-vote country. I'm amazed. You should be offended by this. You think that one persons vote should count five times as much as another's?"

Mathews: "I think it looks as though it's the Clinton supporters --"

Clinton: "When you ask me that question, your position is that you think that the culinary workers vote should be easier for them to vote than anyone else in Nevada who has to work on Saturday. Second, when they do vote, their vote should count five times as much as everybody else? That's what the teachers have questioned. If that's your position, you have it. Get on your television station and say 'I don't care about the home mortgage crisis'. All I care is that some voters have it easier than others, and when they do vote, their vote should count five times as much? That is your position. If you want to take that position, get on the television and take it. Some people in Nevada are old fashioned. They think the rules should be the same for everybody and everybody's vote should count the same. I had nothing to do with that lawsuit and you know it."

More of this exchange is available via raw video on our website by clicking here.

To read more about Mark Matthews' encounter with Bill Clinton in Oakland, click on The Back Story.