Former president draws audience of mixed political perspectives
-photo by Jordan Jacobo/Review staff writer/photographer
Editor in Chief
About 50 Linfield students suffered in a stifling hot gym at McMinnville High School on Saturday afternoon to see former President Bill Clinton stand on the stump and campaign for his wife, Hillary Clinton.
Bill was on a tour through small towns in Oregon spreading his wife’s message and trying to influence voters to support her in the presidential campaign.
However, it didn’t matter as much to students if they support Hillary for president; most just wanted to see the president they grew up with.
Senior Andrew Silkroski said he remembers Bill best as president during his childhood and had to take advantage of the chance to see him speak. He said he wanted to see if Clinton was still as slick as ever.
“I was born in ’86,” Silkroski said. “From my earliest memories, the president was always Clinton. I don’t necessarily support his wife, but how many chances do you get to see the president of the United States come to McMinnville?”
He got in line outside the school at 11 a.m., when it was merely 100 feet long. Later, nearly 1,500 people would be packed into the small gymnasium.
The crowd was kept waiting for a long time. Bill was supposed to speak at 1:45 p.m., but he didn’t arrive
until 3 p.m.
Silkroski said he was able to see Sen. Barack Obama speak in the Key Arena in Seattle on Feb. 8, and said the way the speakers worked the crowd was different. He said Bill spoke specifically about the issues, laying out his wife’s plans and included a few good jokes. Silkroski said he thought the former president lacked energy and seemed too safe and conservative.
At Obama’s rally, he said the atmosphere was a combination of a pep rally and a rock concert and was more exciting. He voted for Obama in Washington’s caucus, where he was a precinct leader.
Silkroski said Bill’s speech on building a greener economy interested him, but he still doesn’t favor Hillary’s position on some issues. He doesn’t believe she is as electable as Obama, and he has doubts in her plan for universal healthcare, he said. He said she sometimes places blame on the wrong people.
Senior Sheri Englert wanted to be involved in politics in a more direct way, so she signed up to help work the rally.
“You have to be somewhat engaged or your voice will never be heard,” Englert said.
She was registered to vote in Washington and voted for Clinton in the caucus, but she said she sees similar policies in Clinton’s and Obama’s campaigns; the implementation is where they differ.
She now considers herself more on the fence between the Democratic candidates, and Bill’s speech didn’t influence her opinion on any issues because she recognizes it as a simple campaign speech. However, she said Bill is an influential speaker who gave her more ideas to mull over before making her decision.
Englert said what stood out to her was the idea of using and developing more renewable energy options and the importance of the government investing in new technology.
On Saturday, she helped staff the event by handing out forms to those waiting in line. She said this is a historical campaign and she wants to be involved in it any way she can.
Freshman Jake M. Masin, a member of the Linfield Democrats club, also helped distribute flyers, tickets and brochures. He is a big supporter of Clinton because he said he believes she is trustworthy. He agrees with her policies and said she is determined to do the job. He said he will vote for her in Oregon’s primary and hopes she will win.
He said he is known for his Hillary bumper sticker pasted on his orange backpack and gets teased a lot by other students. However, his answer for those who taunt him is simple.
“I know what’s best for our country,” Masin said.
He said he has also received compliments on his sticker, and said there are closet Hillary fans on campus who are afraid to openly support the candidate because of the negative stereotypes that surround her.
He said the event was attended by many Clinton and Obama supporters, but he didn’t come across anyone in favor of Sen. John McCain.
Masin said the crowd was high energy despite the high temperatures, and he overheard parents talking to their children about the Clintons.
As for Linfield’s political culture, students have differing views. Masin said the school has a very open political culture and even students from other countries have been participating, such as freshman Phi Kha from Vietnam, who attended the rally. However, he said because the Republican club on campus isn’t active, it doesn’t benefit students.
Englert said she attended Whatcom Community College before coming to Linfield, and compared to the other school, she said politics on campus are nonexistent because many students are apathetic and don’t take issue to political problems.
She said at Whatcom the students were in an uproar every day, writing letters to the editor of the school newspaper and protesting. At Linfield, she said there are so many options for activities that politics are focused on only by small groups such as Greenfield, the environmental club.
She said it is easy to get tired of all of the backstabbing and drama of this election, but she suspects it will decrease after the Democratic candidate is decided.