Bill Clinton campaigns for Democrats in Santa Ana

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Susan Valot/KPCC

Former President Bill Clinton speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez outside the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana this afternoon.

Former President Bill Clinton this afternoon rallied for Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in front of the Old Orange County Courthouse. She's in a tight race with Republican State Assemblyman Van Tran for her 47th District congressional seat.

The former president spoke for about 40 minutes in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 people packed onto the old courthouse lawn. Most were Sanchez supporters, with about a dozen people toward the back holding signs in support of Tran.

Clinton touted Sanchez’s record in Congress and blamed Republicans for getting the country into a financial mess in the first place.

The former president compared fixing the economy to trying to stop a moving locomotive — that it takes time.

"Don’t let this election be a referendum on people’s disappointment and anger," Clinton told the crowd. "Don’t let amnesia get in the way. And do not bad mouth her opponent. He’s lived an honorable life. He’s made a good contribution. This is about a different set of ideas."

And Clinton said the ideas that are going to work belong to Sanchez and the Democrats.

A spokesman for Sanchez’s opponent, Republican Assemblyman Van Tran, called former President Clinton’s visit a way to try to “salvage some support for Sanchez.”

In a written statement, Tran’s spokesman says it shows poor judgment on President Clinton’s part to campaign for Sanchez when she’s “trying to divide communities by race.”

That's a reference to a remark Sanchez made recently on Spanish-language television. She said during an interview that the Vietnamese and Republicans were trying to take her seat.

Later Sanchez later apologized, saying it was a poor choice of words.

The Sanchez rally was the first stop for former President Clinton in a Democratic campaign swing through California.

He will make an appearance at UCLA tonight with Democratic California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. Clinton then heads to Northern California for rallies in San Jose and Napa later this weekend.

He's not the only one in town. Former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is scheduled to be in Anaheim tomorrow afternoon for a "Victory 2010" rally for the Republicans.

The event is the first of two fundraisers for Republican National Committee. The second Republican "Victory 2010" rally with Palin will take place next weekend in Orlando, Florida.

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