Bill Clinton speaks at Syracuse airport in support of Dan Maffei

The 42nd President of the United States landed in Syracuse Friday to campaign for Maffei, who's up for re-election in New York's 24th congressional district.

Former President Bill Clinton stopped by Syracuse Friday evening to stump for Rep. Dan Maffei as the District 24 congressional race nears the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

In a speech to more than 750 people in a hangar at Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Clinton touted Maffei’s positions on issues like equal pay for women, college affordability and economic growth of the middle class.

“I’m telling you, he has earned re-election,” Clinton said to supporters, many of whom held up Maffei signs at the rally. “He wants you to think because he wants you to grow and to prosper.”

Clinton, who said he “loves it here” and ate at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que frequently when Hillary Clinton was a U.S. senator from New York, asked attendees to encourage others to vote. He said in non-presidential elections, fewer voters turn out, especially young people, immigrants and the elderly.

Bill Clinton waves at Maffei supporters as he enters the stage. (Photo: Sam Maller)

“New York has one of the steepest drops,” Clinton said about midterm election turnout compared to presidential elections. “You cannot let that happen.”

Clinton’s appearance in Syracuse came just days after Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Maffei on Monday. The former president spoke about the recovering American economy. He said while it takes most countries 10 years to recover from a crash, the U.S. took just six years.

Part of that recovery, according to Clinton, is Maffei’s economic policies that grow the middle class, give working people a chance to improve their income and give poor people a chance to work into the middle class.

“We’re finally in a position where we don’t have to worry about digging out of a hole,” Clinton said. “Now we can plot the future.”

Clinton briefly mentioned the Affordable Care Act, which Maffei voted for.

“This health care bill has some problems, but it’s done more good than harm,” Clinton said.He said that the bill improved health care delivery and would save taxpayers $188 billion by 2020.

He also discussed education, from pre-kindergarten to higher education. Clinton boasted that Maffei supported preschool for all children and combining academic education with technical education.

Maffei, who came to the stage with Clinton with thunderous applause from the audience, said his first priority is creating jobs and strengthening the middle class. His solution was improving education, building infrastructure and balancing the budget.

Calling social security and Medicare a “sacred trust” he would protect, Maffei did not hesitate to go after his Republican opponent John Katko.

“My opponent wants to take it all away,” Maffei said. “That’s no surprise. Most of his campaign was funded by Washington’s Republican leadership.”

Maffei told supporters they have a “clear choice” this election: to move forward or to move back. Part of Maffei’s forward-looking agenda is equal pay for equal work and keeping college costs down and graduation rates high.

Dan Maffei speaks in support of his campaign, as well as former President Clinton's precidency. (Photo: Sam Maller)

He called President Clinton one of the greatest leaders of our time. Maffei said under Clinton’s leadership in 1990s, the U.S. balanced the budget, and not “on the backs” of seniors. He also said Clinton made good investments to help the economy grow.

The night began with four local Democratic politicians speaking in support of Maffei, including Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and State Assemblyman Al Stirpe.

“When you start the work week with the sitting Vice President and end the week with President Clinton, the eyes of the nation are upon us,” Miner said. She said repeatedly that Central New York values are American values, and that includes investing in education and infrastructure.

Another speaker was Abby Davidson Maffei, Dan Maffei’s wife. The couple just had their first child, Maya, in the summer. Abby Maffei called her husband compassionate, genuine and someone who does the right thing even when no one is looking. She introduced Maffei and Clinton to the stage.

Abby positioned Dan Maffei as a strong supporter of women’s issues. She cited his leadership in helping pass the Violence Against Women Act in Congress.

“When women succeed, Central New York succeeds and America succeeds,” Abby Maffei said. “Equal pay for equal work is essential for the middle class.”

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