Former President Bill Clinton (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
October 24, 2012, 3:07 a.m.

Former President Clinton used a Tuesday night appearance in Irvine to rip Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and GOP congressional leaders for putting America’s middle class, women’s rights and the country’s environmental health at risk, and urged Californians to send Democrats to Washington in next month’s election.

Clinton fired up the young, friendly crowd at UC Irvine during a campus rally for five Democrats locked in tight congressional races in Southern California.

“It’s very important to realize that, particularly in California, because you are the state of the future.… It’s really important that we get the best Congress we can to make the most of the next four years and to turn back the reactionary tide,” Clinton told a cheering crowd of 5,000 students and other supporters.

Shawn Singh, a 21-year-old business major from Anaheim Hills, didn’t know or really care about any of the congressional candidates. He wanted to hear the former president speak.

“He’s one of the most charismatic people alive,” said Singh, an independent who says he plans to vote for President Obama. “I don’t think Mitt Romney can relate. He can’t relate to real people.”

Clinton has been hopscotching across the nation for weeks, campaigning for Obama and Democratic congressional candidates to help energize the party’s base. That’s especially true in California, a state he won handily during his two presidential runs and visited 29 times during his first term.

Clinton spoke for just more than 30 minutes, spending most of his time skewering Romney and praising the five Democrats that shared the stage with him: Julia Brownley of Ventura, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, Scott Peters of San Diego, Raul Ruiz of Coachella and Mark Takano of Riverside.

The biggest applause came when Clinton said that a Democratic Congress would keep federal college loans affordable and ensure that climate change and other environmental concerns could not be ignored by Republicans who believe more in “ideology than evidence.”

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