LAS CRUCES — Dustin Evaro, a Republican, says he’ll likely vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in November.
Evaro, a 19-year-old Las Crucen, is working to reconcile his party registration with the current direction of the GOP as he prepares to cast his first vote ever. He says he likes some of what presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks about, “but I don’t support his racial views.”
On the other hand, he likes Clinton’s foreign policy views and that she’s fiscally moderate.
“I just feel like Hillary will make a better president,” Evaro said.
That’s exactly the message Clinton’s husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, came to Las Cruces to spread on Thursday. He spoke to an energetic crowd of around 500 people at Picacho Middle School about Hillary Clinton’s experience, qualifications, and history of working across the political aisle to get things done.
“We’ve got a big decision to make,” Bill Clinton told the crowd. “Are we gonna go forward together or are we going to be divided?”
Clinton held up a copy of his wife’s book “Hard Choices.” He choked up a bit as he explained that a campaign volunteer from El Paso, Texas named Carlos asked him to give the book to Hillary Clinton — and said 2,016 people Carlos knows wrote their names in it.
Then Bill Clinton made the argument that Hillary Clinton has spent her career making difficult choices. He said the country improves when people work together — and when they don’t, nothing changes. He mentioned Hillary Clinton working across the political aisle with Sen. John McCain of Arizona and others to get things done.
“She always finds a way to make people work together,” Bill Clinton said.
Hillary Clinton, he said, has the right values. “This is about building a future economy, not recovering a past economy we can’t get back,” he said, adding that Hillary Clinton “wants to build a future with bridges, not walls.” He talked about the importance of reforming the nation’s education and criminal justice systems. And he took some direct shots at Trump.
“We need comprehensive immigration reform,” Bill Clinton said. “We need to stop demonizing Muslims.”
Thursday’s visit to Las Cruces wasn’t Clinton’s first. In 1996, in the final days of his campaign for re-election, Clinton became the first sitting president to visit the city since William Howard Taft stopped here in 1909.
Clinton said Thursday that he also visited Las Cruces in the 1980s and loves the city. He said he believes New Mexico, one of the poorest states in America, would benefit from Hillary Clinton’s plans to rebuild infrastructure and invest in science and technology. The state has good roads and airports. Its national laboratories can be repurposed to work on clean energy and nanotechnology. And NMSU can be a leader in research, he said.
“I think you’ve got more potential to grow quickly than virtually any state in America,” Clinton said.
Bill Clinton also worked into his speech a rebuttal of consistent polling that shows many people don’t trust Hillary Clinton. He said people who are skeptical about government doubt she is as wonderful as he made her out to be during Thursday’s speech — almost as though they think it’s too good to be true. But, he said, “It’s all true.”
“If everybody believed in government, the Republican Party would be out of business,” Bill Clinton said.
Evaro said he wants the Republican Party to be less divisive. While he’s not certain he’ll vote for Hillary Clinton in November, he said he probably will. She still has to win her Democratic Primary battle against Bernie Sanders, but that’s more than likely at this point. Evaro said he’s also open to considering Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson — who describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, like Evaro.
But Evaro said he believes Clinton, like Sanders, can relate to many people, while Trump “can really relate to the 1 percent better.”
Sadie Goldman of Las Cruces, who was attending her first presidential rally since the 1960s, was also sold on the message that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate.
“I think she will be a good president,” Goldman said at the rally.
Hillary Clinton has not held a rally in New Mexico ahead of next week’s Democratic and Republican primaries. With polls narrowing in the massive state of California, which also holds its primaries on Tuesday, she has been focused elsewhere.
Sanders made a campaign swing through New Mexico last month, visiting Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Vado, a rural community located south of Las Cruces. Sanders spoke to a crowd of more than 3,000 in Vado.