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President Bill Clinton
Myrtle Beach High School - Myrtle Beach
January 23, 2008
The old saying that "they saved the best for last" definitely applies here, because our final experience of the campaign was a visit by the former President of the United States.
My son, Aron, accompanied me to this final rally. I'm very proud that he took such an interest in these events, because most teenagers don't take advantage of early opportunities to become involved with our political system. He saw three of the candidates with me, and would have seen more, if their appearances had come outside normal school hours.
Based on our previous experiences, we decided to arrive about an hour before the doors opened, but quickly found out that there's a big difference between "a candidate for President" and "the President" himself. As you can see from the pictures above, the crowd was much larger than any other event we had attended. This rally was held in the same room as the John Edwards rally the week before, but the room filled quickly to the fire code limit (about 500), and the overflow crowd (another 500) was sent to the auditorium, with piped-in sound. Fortunately, we were early enough to get good seats - front and center, four rows back.
The media turnout for this event dwarfed the other events we attended, too. The "media stand" behind the seats was full, from end to end.
This was really an event to remember. President Clinton spoke for over an hour, without notes, and touched on every significant campaign issue, and more. He talked about the economy, health care, immigration, taxes, the federal government, international politics, terrorism, his days as President, and his time since leaving office. His in-depth knowledge of the issues, and his ability to understand and explain the various points of view that different groups hold, was amazing.
He was campaigning for Hillary, of course, and repeatedly reminded us of that fact, but he did not display any of the anger towards Senator Obama that had been in the news over the past few days at that time. He even spoke well of President Bush and other candidates on several points.
After his speech, he began a "town hall' question-and-answer session with the audience. When we were about an hour into that session, I realized that Aron (who was in the middle of taking final exams for the semester that week) was struggling to stay awake, so we went home early. I found out the next morning that the "town hall" session lasted another hour after we left.
No matter what you might think of his politics, pro or con, President Clinton is one of the most literate, educated, and knowledgeable people of our generation. This was an evening that I had hoped to experience, for many years, and I will always remember it.
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