From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
PARKERSBURG, W.V. -- Bill Clinton kicked off a day of campaigning here by making a personal appeal to voters, saying Hillary's success depends on "real" people like those who came to see him. And as the rhetoric heats up between the Democratic campaigns, Bill Clinton offered this message: "Saddle up."
"If a politician doesn't wanna get beat up, he shouldn't run for office," he said. "If a politician doesn't wanna get beat up, he shouldn't run for office. If a football player doesn't want to get tackled or want the risk of an a occasional clip he shouldn't put the pads on."
Clinton then alluded to the resignations and calls for resignations that have been traded back and forth between the campaigns.
"I don't think any of these people oughta be asked to resign," he said. "All these guys that say bad things about any other campaign, they say, 'Should they resign?' My answer is no; they're repeating party line. They oughta stay right where they are. Let's just saddle up and have an argument. What's the matter with that? That's what America's about, right?"
And while some are "moaning and groaning," he said there are larger issues to gripe about. "None of these politicians are gonna have anything like the tough time half the people in this audience have already had for the last seven years," he said to applause. "This is about you. Don't you let anybody take this election away from you."
This is Clinton's first appearance in West Virginia ahead of the state's May 13 primary. The former president thanked the crowd of about 500 for the state supporting him in his presidential campaigns, and said it's time for the state to return to the Democratic column in November.
"In spite of the best efforts of a lot of the elites in the media and other places it looks like we are gonna have an opportunity for everybody to vote in this primary, and I think your vote should be counted, don't you?" he asked. "I know Hillary's gaining on them when they say, 'Oh, let's shut this down now; we don't want to be divided.
Let's just disenfranchise several of the million people who could vote. Wouldn't you like to vote and have your votes counted? Wouldn't you like to have a voice in this election? Don't you think that your vote should count as much as the people who voted in Iowa first? Yeah, well so does Hillary."
He also said that West Virginia is a "special place," and said it has the kind of profile that bodes well for his wife.
"If it weren't for people like you, she wouldn't be in this race," he said.