His full mane snowier, his frame thinner, his accent heavier than in bygone days, former president Bill Clinton took the spotlight in Medford Sunday, March 30. Originally scheduled for Hedrick Middle School at 4:30 p.m., he ascended North Medford High School gymnasium’s stage at 5:30 instead.
The weather, more wintry than expected, had intermixed brief bouts of
snow, rain, wind, and sun with the morning chill. Relying upon
advisories of "first come, first served," spectators shivered on the
school’s campus hours ahead of Clinton’s impending arrival. First in
line, Eagle Point High School class of ’89 alumnus Gary Hartrick and
family set up their canvas folding chairs at 8:30 a.m. They’d also
been to Obama’s Medford meeting the week before. "We were willing to
camp outside to wait for that one, but we lucked out and got tickets,"
Hartrick said. A veteran of the Desert Storm, Hartrick sought answers
from all three candidates regarding our troops in Iraq, and those
Shady Cove resident Jeannine Englehart bundled up
in a hooded winter jacket, and lap blanket. Curious about what
Clinton’s campaign has to offer, she said she’d like to see a woman
elected president in her lifetime.
almost-deserted school cafeteria, Eagle Point residents Darrin Hillyer
and wife Judy completed a form volunteers had provided. Also at the
prior week’s Obama meeting, Judy Hillyer had made news following
injuries she asserts she’d received from a sign-smuggling activist.
flipped the hem of her blouse to reveal the livid bruises that remain.
"And this has gotten better. You should’ve seen how it looked a week
ago." She held up a bandaged pinky. "He also crushed my little finger."
She said the matter currently rests with Jackson County District
In the gym, audience members
outnumbered available bleacher seating. Clinton staff estimated
attendance at 2,500. The majority remained on their feet for an hour
longer than anticipated. According to Josh Kardon, Chair of the
campaign steering committee, Bill Clinton’s private plane had landed in
Medford, and his motorcade was en route. They’d flown in from Stockton,
California. The delay in arriving at the venue was due to a meeting
he’d hold first with local dignitaries. These included elected
officials, party leaders, and industry moguls from Harry and David.
energetic volunteer "warmed up" the crowd with cheers-"gimmie an ‘H,’
gimmie and ‘I,’ gimmie an ‘L,’ etc. As she spoke, she tossed T-shirts
bearing the candidate’s logo into the crowd. She also requested
contributions to shore-up Hillary’s chances for victory.
the long-awaited main speaker stepped onto the platform to address the
topic, "Solutions for America." He noted that this was his first stop
in Oregon, adding, "Aren’t you glad your vote counts?" He mentioned his
experience as Governor or Arkansas and as U.S. President. He
highlighted his efforts to help hurricane Katrina victims, and
lambasted what he considered the terrible job current President Bush
had done for them. He spoke of his current office in New York’s Harlem.
His sense of humor became apparent when he told a vignette about himself.
was the first time I cried on a golf course," he began. "It had nothing
to do with how bad my golf is." He related a moving story of a caddy
he’d encountered, who’d been a first responder to the World Trade
Towers’ devastation. Clinton credits Hillary with bringing the
inferno’s ensuing pollution victims’ issues to the attention of
Then the former Rhodes Scholar talked of when
he and Hillary were in law school, and flat broke. "We borrowed college
tuition money at 2%, paid it back and didn’t default." Lately, he
contends, student loan abuses abound. Hillary led a plan whereby
college loans could be paid back at lower interest rates over a longer
period of time.
In jest, he labeled the Clintons the "the
poorest 1st family in America," and spoke of the White House as their
"government-subsidized public housing."
He faulted Bush
for flaws in the No-Child-Left-Behind act. Hillary’s solution entails
federal government’s recruiting, training better teachers, and paying
them higher salaries. "Figure out what the best schools are doing
right, and pay to put that in every other school in America."
he said, "we’re 4% of the world’s population, and 22% of its income.
Repeal the provision in the tax code that sends jobs overseas. Have an
enforcement officer to get full disclosure."
He also spoke
favorably of stem cell research, and stressed ecological issues such as
global warming. Regarding the Iraq war, Hillary favors bringing our
troops home, but keeping a small contingent in the Kurdish area. This
is to protect them against future Al Quaida uprisings. "Iraq has a
constitutional government, and Sadam is gone. As to how they will share
power, or split oil money, we can’t make those decisions for them."
From Medford, Clinton headed to Portland, Salem and Bend where he’d repeat that speech the following day.
By. F.C. Blake
Of the Independent