Bill Clinton Preaches Immigration Reform, Pitches Advertisers at Upfront Debut

AP Images

The former president held court at the Univision presentation to talk about the exploding Hispanic demographic.

Upfront-goers may have been buzzing about Monday's performance by the cast of Empire at Fox's presentation, but Univision easily eclipsed that star power on Tuesday morning when it opened its own event with a 15-minute appearance by Bill Clinton.

"I'm well aware that I'm just a warm-up act for Ricky Martin," said Clinton, trying to put an end to his standing ovation.

No. 42 sat down with Fusion host Alicia Menendez for a Q&A that touched on the upcoming election, immigration reform, unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore and his experience with the Hispanic population — a demographic he won during both of his bids for the presidency. (One topic that was never mentioned directly, however, was wife Hillary Clinton and her decision to join the 2016 race.)

"You've got to have a credible position on immigration reform," was Clinton's advice to any candidate hoping to court Hispanic voters: "The only things that makes sense are a path for citizenship and support for children. … The only thing to do is have a policy of radical inclusion."

The Hispanic vote is more important than ever, their U.S. population rising, as Clinton mentioned, from 29 million to 59 million since his time in office. And Menendez pointed out that Hispanic buying power in America is on the rise at rate twice that of the rest of the U.S. population. "If I was an advertiser, I'd study the change in demographics very quickly," Clinton said. "It's a totally different world."

Clinton, who preceded a presentation that touted a big sports lineup and an audience that tends to fast-forward less, seemed to sum up his thoughts on the troubles abroad (ISIS) and at home (the deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York and more cities) with the same mission statement.

"You should be optimistic about the future," he said. "Be upbeat and relentlessly forward-looking. Every country, every person and every company should be in the future business. You may think that's coming from a guy who's older than everybody in the audience. … You may win a lot of elections with divisive politics, but you won't make a lot of progress."

Telling an anecdote about a recent visit to Africa, Clinton was cut off by a visibly embarrassed Menendez: "Mr. President, I'm being told we have to wrap it up."

Clinton left, as he arrived, to a standing ovation — a reception he shared with one of the presentation's other guests: Sábado Gigante host Don Francisco.

comments powered by Disqus