Hillary Clinton's Supporters, Detractors Flock To Bill Clinton's Speech

This story was written by Michael Zennie, Indiana Daily Student
IU junior Korpo Momolu isn't a big fan of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. In fact, she said, she's wholeheartedly for Clinton's opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

And yet Momolu turned out Wednesday to stand in a line that snaked through the parking lot of Assembly Hall in order to see Clinton's biggest backer - her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

"I love Bill," Momolu said with a broad smile. "I think he was a great president. I love his personality. I love his smile. He's so great. I just love Bill."

Momolu is like many of the thousands of IU students who turned out to see the 42nd U.S. president stump for his wife. Many said they adore Bill Clinton and yearn for what they say was the economic prosperity he brought to America. Yet, they support Obama and believe he's the one more likely to bring back the boom times of the 1990s than the former president's own wife.

"I think it's Obama's message of change," said sophomore Max Einsohn. "I think he's the one who can change this country."

To be sure, the New York senator had the support of many of the roughly 6,500 people who turned out.

Sophomore Nicole Sztuk said she thinks Hillary Clinton has the passion and drive and the experience to push through reforms that will help the American people.

The former first lady's record with health care reform, in particular, draws her to Clinton, she said.

But nearly all of the students interviewed by the Indiana Daily Student Wednesday said they supported Obama, despite their respect for Bill Clinton.

Notoriously late

Bill Clinton was scheduled to take the podium at 2 p.m. By the time he showed up at about 4:45 p.m., hundreds of students had left. Some left and came back, and nearly all of them were restless.

Clinton's Bloomington stop was the last of a four-city tour of Indiana Wednesday that started in Columbus, then went to Seymour, and then on to Bedford.

Einsohn, a music and psychology major, took a unique approach to passing the time.

Before Clinton made his appearance, around the second time Bruce Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere" came blaring across Assembly Hall's speakers, Einsohn got hungry. So he called Greek's Pizzeria and ordered two pizza pies for delivery to Assembly Hall. One he ate himself. The other he sold to some of the equally hungry and antsy students who came out to see the former president - a buck a slice.

"I would have gotten more, but they would only let me order two," he said.

But even though they were forced to wait for hours to see the former president - some arrived as early as 10 or 10:30 a.m. - most students said it was worth it.

"I was undecided before I came today," junior Tema Sall said. "Now I'm much more leaning toward Hillary."

History in the making

The May 6 primary might be the first one that matters for the Hoosier state in 40 years, but it's been even longer than that since IU has been on the presidential map.

Bill Clinton is the first former U.S. president to visit campus in 90 years, by the IU Archives' count.

Not since Theodore Roosevelt gave the 1918 commencement address has a current or former president been to IU, said Philip Bantin, director of the Office of University Archives and Records.

Before that, William Howard Taft delivered a speech at IU for Foundation Day in 1915. Richard Nixon gave a convocation on campus in 1965, though he was only a former vice president at the time.

Bantin said those three dates are the only ones the Archives has on record for presidential visits, though he conceded good documentation for that sort of thing was not always kept.
© 2008 Indiana Daily Student via U-WIRE