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Bill Clinton Makes Rounds For Hillary in Illinois As Bernie Picks Up Steam

By  Alex Nitkin and Sam Cholke | March 15, 2016 12:06pm 

 Clinton spent about a half hour shaking hands and taking pictures with a crowd of giddy local residents and employees of the nearby health center.
Clinton spent about a half hour shaking hands and taking pictures with a crowd of giddy local residents and employees of the nearby health center.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

AUSTIN — After leading Bernie Sanders in Illinois polls for months, the Vermont senator has stolen some of Hillary Clinton's thunder in Illinois recently, and former President Bill Clinton was in Chicago on Tuesday morning trying to make sure her supporters stand by her.

Bill Clinton shook hands and took pictures with West Side voters after the polls opened Tuesday morning.

He spent about 30 minutes on the sidewalk outside Mayfair Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, 5905 W. Washington Blvd., entertaining a swarm of people as his aides handed out Hillary signs. 

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined local elected officials like U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th) and Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), who both represent the Austin area, to chat and take pictures with the 42nd president.

"We're very happy to have President Clinton come to the 29th Ward, especially since we've all been big supporters of Hillary for a long time," said Taliaferro, who is running to be Democratic ward committeeman in the 29th Ward. "I'm very prayerful and optimistic that we'll have a victory today, and so will she. Out here, this is Hillary country."

Clinton also made stops in Hyde Park joining local politicians like Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and city Treasurer Kurt Summers, where he said he didn't think Illinois would be a repeat of Michigan, where Bernie Sanders pulled a surprise victory.

"I mean in Michigan, we always knew it was going to be close and we made a decision to try to make sure we did as well as we could," he said. "Hillary spent a lot of time in Michigan just trying to help Flint. She wound up spending relatively less time campaigning, and we worked hard in Mississippi and got a great 66-point victory down there, the biggest one of the election."

Clinton made a stop at the polling place at Shoesmith Elementary School, 1330 E. 50th St. and made appearances with several candidates running for office, including state Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and Cook County state's attorney candidate Kim Foxx.

Clinton drew a distinction between Sanders and Hillary Clinton as he spent part of the day campaigning on the South Side.

"This should be a race for president. There is a blame candidate and a responsibility candidate in this race," Clinton said. "I'm betting the responsibility candidate will win."

Though she was born in Chicago and held a more than 20-point lead over Sanders as of last week, some of that Illinois momentum seems to have slowed. A CBS poll released Monday showed Sanders with a slight lead over the former secretary of state and first lady. 

Some have blamed embattled Mayor Rahm Emanuel for her loss of support in Chicago, where Sanders spoke to a packed auditorium Monday night. 

"I want to thank Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not endorsing me," Sanders said. "I don't want his endorsement. I don't want the endorsement of a mayor who is shutting down school after school and firing teachers."

"Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd called Emanuel a "toxic figure" for Hillary, and Emanuel has been absent for recent events for the candidate held in his city. 

Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins, however, told Bloomberg News that "schedules" were to blame in keeping Hillary and the mayor apart recently. 

"The mayor's support for President Clinton and Secretary Clinton is well known," he told Bloomberg. 

While both Democratic candidates made stops in Chicago on Monday, they're expected to stay in key swing states such as Ohio and Florida on Tuesday night. 

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