Waiting for the ‘Clinton magic’

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

All Ginger Thompson and Kyler Williams wanted to see was a little bit of that “Clinton magic.”

Thompson and Williams, both students at Weber State University, drove from Ogden to watch former President Bill Clinton on Sunday. The two friends were the first to wait in “will call” outside the building in a line that stretched all the way to the parking lot adjacent to the Alumni House.

Williams, who is majoring in communication and is a member of the WSU Democrat club, said seeing Bill Clinton’s personable character and charm, which he is known for, was worth the four-hour wait.

“We wanted to see the Clinton magic in person,” Williams said. “We’ve heard about it so much that we wanted to experience it for ourselves.”

Bill Clinton spoke in the Union Ballroom during a rally to raise money for his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Ticket sales between the U rally and fundraisers in Park City collected $340,000. The U event brought in around $50,000.

A crowd of more than 1,200 packed into the Union to see the former president speak, including more than a dozen U Police Department officers and a handful of visible Secret Service agents. The Secret Service agents are hired to protect current and former presidents, their spouses and families. Sgt. Lynn Rohland of the U Police declined to give details about security but said their plan “went smoothly.”

Besides security, to accommodate Bill Clinton, event staffers set up the Collegiate Room as a green room where the former president could watch the Colts-Patriots game. In addition to cable television, he requested a plate of hot wings before the show, said Brandon Patterson, marketing director of the Union Programming Council.

In the audience were a mix of current and former local and state political leaders, including county council members Jenny Wilson and Randy Horiuchi, who sat in the front row. Also in attendance were Wilson’s father and former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson, current Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Salt Lake City mayoral candidate Ralph Becker, who received an unexpected standing ovation when he entered the ballroom.

Oakley B. Gordon, who is working as an intern for Becker and is the president of the U College Democrats, said before the rally that Bill Clinton’s visit was going to be memorable.

“It’s going to take some time to sink in that I’m actually going to see him,” said Gordon, a sophomore in political science and economics.

However, the politicians and students had to wait to listen to Bill Clinton speak because the rally started an hour and a half late after he arrived from a fundraiser in Park City.

Still, Salt Lake City resident Maurine Haltiner, who considers herself a “die-hard Hillary fan,” said the wait was worth it. Haltiner, who was the third person in line for the speech after the two WSU students, said Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for president because she has more experience and “knows the world.”

“She’s different. She’s both passionate and knowledgeable,” Haltiner said. “She’s not prickly like Edwards and Giuliani.”

Thompson, who waited in line with Haltiner and is majoring in political science and history, said she is supporting Hillary Clinton because she believes the former first lady is serious about changing the failing government.

“Bush is good for a laugh,” Thompson said. “But Clinton is good if you want to learn something and take something away.”

[email protected]

Lennie Mahler

Crowds line up to hear former president Bill Clinton speak at the Union Building on Sunday. The line stretched from the front of the Union down the sidewalk to near the Alumni House.