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Eric Swalwell rallies hometown supporters at presidential campaign kickoff rally

Casey Tolan, The Mercury News on

Published in News & Features

DUBLIN, Calif. -- California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell rallied supporters at his high school alma mater Sunday, describing his middle class upbringing and vowing to make gun control the central cause of his presidential campaign.

"As someone who has benefited so profoundly from the promise of America, as someone who owes this country, this city everything, I'm asking you to help me create a country that fulfills that promise for all Americans," Swalwell declared on a sunny, blustery day at Dublin High School.

In Dublin, where Swalwell launched his political career as a City Council member less than a decade ago, he painted the picture of his middle class upbringing that couldn't be more different from President Donald Trump's. His resume, he told his supporters, included a paperboy route at age 9, being an umpire on local baseball fields and folding sweaters at Aeropostale at the nearby Stoneridge Mall.

"Where we lived was not Mar-a-Lago," Swalwell said. "We lived right smack in the middle of the middle class."

Many of the about 1,000 people who came to Swalwell's rally -- and lined up to exchange fist bumps and snap selfies with him -- had been following the 38-year-old congressman's career since the beginning.

"We've supported Eric ever since he's been a congressman, and we want to see him jump to the top," said Brenda Bigongiari, 79, who lives in Castro Valley. "He's an everyman, and he's upfront about his beliefs."

 

The rally wrapped up Swalwell's first week as a White House candidate. He announced his bid on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Monday night, and held campaign events in Iowa, South Carolina and near Parkland, Fla., the site of last year's deadly high school shooting. Later this week, he's headed to Nevada and New Hampshire.

Swalwell also focused his speech on gun control, calling his proposal to ban and buy back every assault weapon in the U.S. the most far-reaching solution to the problem offered by any presidential candidate.

"Our right to live and to love each other, those rights are greater than any other right in the Constitution, period," he said to cheers.

He's hoping that the focus on guns will help him stick out of the crowd of 18 Democrats running for president, many of whom are better known and have been in the race for far longer and some of whom are preaching the same themes of generational change.

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