Video footage courtesy of Jean-Paul Barthe:
To the song 'celebration' and cries of "alright!" Lieutenant Governor of California, John Garamendi, took to the stage at the Basque Cultural Center in San Francisco alongside former US president Bill Clinton, in a rally organised as part of Garamendi's bid to be elected to Congress.
Clinton opened his speech recalling a trip he and Hillary took to the Basque Country nearly 34 years ago: "I loved it all," he declared. "I loved the festivals, the celebrations - I loved everything except the fish and cold milk! Otherwise it was an ace, 100% deal with me - I was ready to become Basque!"
Keeping in frequent touch via his Twitter account, Garamendi wrote in the first of three posts, "Great crowd at the Basque Cultural Center for my rally with President Bill Clinton." Despite receiving short notice about the event - in support of healthcare reform and renewable energy - according to on-line Basque newspaper Euskal Kazeta, "several hundreds" turned up to hear Clinton's glowing endorsement of California's Lt Governor.
In a rousing speech on healthcare, ex-President Clinton described the US's current healthcare strategy as "the dumbest economic policy the US could pursue," and likened it to taking "900 billion dollars, putting kerosene on it and burning it." He urged people to look at the "cold, hard economics" of the situation "This is killing our country folks" he summed up, "if you want it to change, send John Garamendi to congress".
In his final Twitter post, Garamendi described the atmosphere as having "a great energy the President made a wonderful speech." He is considered a favourite among political observers to win in November's election because the district he represents is strongly democratic.
Three of the founding members of San Francisco's Basque Cultural Center, John Gorostiague, Johnny Curutchet and Felix Berrueta, were also in attendance and they commented that when they set up the centre 25 years ago they never imagined receiving a visit from a US President.
Garamendi, the grandson of Basque immigrants, is one of the States' best-known Basque-American politicians. His grandparents ran hotels in Nevada and Stockton. His wife Patti, opening the rally, described herself as "an adopted Basque". On their ranch in Northern California, the Old Glory and Ikurriña flags fly side-by-side.