By Alan Collins
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Former President Bill Clinton came to Birmingham Thursday to support and raise money for the Ron Sparks campaign.
Clinton arrived Thursday afternoon at a private airport and later was escorted to the Harbert Plaza in downtown Birmingham. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks said Clinton's visit will be a big boost for his campaign.
"I think it shows he has an interest in Alabama," Sparks said. "He certainly believes we can win this campaign in Alabama and I believe he thinks we are talking about the right issues. Educating our children and putting people back to work."
Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights icon in Birmingham, was among the invited guests. Birmingham Race Course and Victoryland Owner Milton McGregor was also there. Democrats said Clinton talked about how during his administration the economy and federal deficit were under control and when Republicans took over, economic troubles started.
"Many Americans, many Alabamians look back on the Clinton years as a great prosperity in this nation's economy," Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr., said.
Former Governor Don Siegelman also attended. Siegelman said Clinton encouraged Democrats to stress how they plan to improve economy and provide jobs.
"There is a lot at stake in this election," Siegelman said. "This is about Alabama's future. It's about giving families jobs."
Birmngham Mayor William Bell said Clinton's visit bolsters the Alabama Democratic Party in the upcoming election.
"I think it's a message of unity," Bell said. "The Democratic Party behind this candidate bring full support going into the last month or so."
In Montgomery, Sparks Republican opponent Robert Bentley continued on with his campaign. Bentley said he welcomed any former president to Alabama, but what he wants is the endorsement of voters he is trying to put back to work.
Sparks said he hopes the Clinton visit will generate between $250,000 to $300,000 for his campaign.
Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.