By Christopher Cadelago

Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Democrat Scott Peters at a rally Tuesday in Irvine, saying the congressional challenger has helped forge a creative and cooperative environment to ensure the region continues to lead the world in biotechnology and other scientific research.

Peters has been waging a tough challenge to Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray in San Diego County.

“If you vote for his opponent, and all of the lobbyists that are behind him, and all of the special-interest groups trying to hold onto yesterday instead of create tomorrow, the (research) money won’t be there,” Clinton said at the evening “California’s Voice” rally at UC Irvine where he also endorsed other Democrats running in some of the state’s battleground congressional districts.

“If you vote for him, every day he could stand up on the floor of the Congress and give one of those little one-minute speeches saying, ‘Let me tell you one more San Diego story. Let me tell you how we did it, with Democrats and Republicans.’ His opponent wants to hold onto yesterday. Scott wants to move San Diego into tomorrow.”

Bilbray, who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, used the endorsement to criticize Peters for refusing to release his tax returns. Bilbray’s spokesman also jabbed Peters for spending $2 million of his own money on the campaign.

“As one of the most partisan surrogates traveling the country on behalf of Democrats, President Clinton has routinely called on Governor Romney to release his tax returns,” Bilbray’s campaign spokesman Patrick Howell said. “We hope that President Clinton will join Congressman Bilbray in calling for Scott Peters to release his tax returns. As he is personally funding his campaign for Congress, the voters have a right to know where the funds come from and what conflicts of interest he has as a candidate, and possibly a member of Congress.

“Certainly President Clinton agrees with Brian on the need for transparency and ethics in Washington.”

Peters has released a compulsory financial disclosure statement that details the sources of his family’s income but does not include a tax rate. The Democrat has defended himself against months of attacks by arguing that he supports proposals to levy higher taxes on top earners such as his own family.

But his focus of the day was his high-profile endorsement.

“I am so happy to be endorsed today by Bill Clinton, because when Bill Clinton ran the country, it worked,” Peters said over growing cheers from the crowd. “We had Democrats and Republicans working together. We actually had a budget surplus instead of a budget deficit.

“And because of that budget surplus, we could actually make investments in our future on things like infrastructure, education and scientific research. We could make the safety net work. We could make it better, not try to cut it or end it.

“Let’s bring a new attitude to Congress. Let’s fight. Let’s vote. And let’s win.”

Peters stressed the importance of education and investment — and criticized Bilbray — in his speech in Orange County.

“I had a chance to get an education and make a life because America invested in me as a middle-class kid,” Peters said. “We know that middle-class kids like I was are losing that opportunity every day because Congress can’t get its act together.

“We have a bunch of tea party people like my opponent who would rather cut education and Medicare than ask the few of the wealthiest people to pay more in taxes and end those tax breaks.”

Meanwhile, Clinton also praised the work of Mayor Jerry Sanders, Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and human genome guru J. Craig Venter.

He also endorsed Proposition 30, the sales and income tax increase to help fund schools, and opposed Proposition 32, which is aimed at restricting political fundraising by organized labor.

christopher.cadelago@utsandiego.com

Original Link: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/oct/24/tp-bill-clinton-endorses-peters-at-irvine-rally/