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L.A.’S RACE FOR MAYOR

Clinton, stumping for Greuel, calls voter turnout 'ridiculous'

In an appearance at Langer's Deli, the former president criticizes the low turnout in the mayoral primary — and lauds the city controller's work for his administration.

April 20, 2013|By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times
  • Former President Clinton and candidate Wendy Greuel greet supporters during a mayoral campaign event at Langer's Deli in Los Angeles. Greuel served in the Clinton administration and was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid.
Former President Clinton and candidate Wendy Greuel greet supporters… (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles…)

Former President Bill Clinton, stumping for Wendy Greuel in Los Angeles on Saturday, castigated the voter turnout in the mayoral primary as "ridiculous."

"We can't tolerate … the kind of low turnout you all have in these mayors' races," Clinton said of the 20.8% of registered voters who cast ballots in the March primary. "It's ridiculous. There are too many people in Los Angeles, of all ages, that have a big stake in the future."

The former president, who endorsed Greuel in March, lauded her resume as he spoke to scores of her supporters at Langer's Deli. He highlighted the time she served in his administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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"I think you need a mayor who keeps score, based on whether you've done something or not and whether it helped people or not ... and what still needs to be done," Clinton said. "My first direct exposure to Wendy, as she said, was after the Northridge earthquake, and a lot of you remember, I spent a lot of time around here. We had a lot of work to do … She handled HUD's part of it and the money that flowed in here, and I thought she did a terrific job."

Greuel held up Clinton's record of economic recovery, job creation and deficit reduction as a template.

"He has been an inspiration and role model to so many people," she said, wearing a powder-blue suit that matched the stripes on Clinton's tie. "He is someone who cares about Los Angeles, cares about the future of this city and cares about all of us. When you came into office, Mr. President, you brought hope and optimism.... You had a plan to move the country forward. I have a plan to move Los Angeles forward."

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Clinton, who was in town to accept an award from GLAAD, and Greuel held an hour-long town hall that her campaign filmed for a future commercial. Many of the questions focused on the historic nature of Greuel's bid — she would be the first female mayor of Los Angeles if she is elected in the May 21 runoff against Eric Garcetti. So attention naturally turned to whether Hillary Clinton would run for president in 2016.

Clinton demurred, saying that his wife left her secretary of State post four months ago and has been recovering from the concussion she suffered after fainting in December.

"I've urged her to take at least a year … to rest and get her batteries recharged, and to stay back from politics, and then take a look at where we are and what she thinks," he said. "I have no earthly idea what she's going to do ... I think she did a heck of a job as secretary of State and I'm proud of her."

Greuel was an early and active supporter of Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. That support and Greuel's time in the Clinton administration are believed to be the primary reasons she was backed by Clinton, who is known to reward loyalties to his family.

Garcetti has a deep relationship with President Obama, but the White House has said that the president had no plans to weigh in on a Democrat-versus-Democrat election.

Neither Clinton nor Greuel mentioned Garcetti by name, but the former president said, "I have nothing negative to say about her opponent."

The Garcetti campaign said Clinton's appearance was not unexpected.

"Bill Clinton has been a constant refrain in Greuel's campaign, so today's event was no surprise," said spokesman Jeff Millman.

seema.mehta@latimes.com

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