N.C. State Student Spars With Chelsea Clinton About Bill And Monica Scandal

This story was written by Chris Allred, Technician
Chelsea Clinton visited N.C. State Monday in support of her mother's presidential campaign to answer questions from students about Sen. Hillary Clinton's platforms, and one student touched an issue Clinton did not want to speak of.

Bryce Davis, a freshman in biochemistry, addressed a question asked at Butler University last week when a student asked whether Former President Bill Clinton's scandal with Monica Lewinsky had damaged her mother's reputation.

Since Clinton had said that was not the student's business, Davis said he asked her to explain why it was not the student's business, and that it should be the student's business since her father was president at the time.

"Well sir, I respectfully disagree, I think that is something that is personal to my family and I'm sure there are things that are personal to your family that you don't think are anyone's business either," Clinton said.

Clinton's father's actions are the American's business, Davis said, because of his position as a representative for the entire nation.

"[Clinton's] father, at the time, was the president of the United States, and one of his primary duties as President was to be chief citizen," Davis said. "[By acting as] chief citizen, he should be a model citizen for the United States."

According to Davis, he did not mention Lewinsky's name when asking about Pres. Clinton, so the question could have addressed any of Pres. Clinton's actions during his terms.

After several national media outlets have covered Davis' question and Clinton's response, he said he feels his statements were misconstrued, and he was not trying to harm Clinton's campaign or the University.

"I was not trying to embarrass Chelsea Clinton in front of my peers and I felt that when I left the meeting after my question, people felt that I was storming out of the building," he said. "In reality, I had a 12:30 p.m. class that I was five minutes late to."

Clinton arrived later than anticipated to Talley Student Center from an airline delay, but groups on campus and within Clinton's campaign had been planning the event since this weekend.

Campus Police learned Saturday night that Clinton would be visiting N.C. State, and Chief Tom Younce said providing protection was not a burden on police, even though Clinton does not travel with Secret Service.

"I've got officers who are specifically trained by the Secret Service for executive protection," Younce said.

According to Younce, the police's main purpose was to facilitate Clinton with a place to reach students.

To do this, they blocked off a street, dealt with media vehicles and ensured she would have an easy arrival and departure, he said. There were about eight officers working at the question-and-answer session, with help from some other on-duty shift officers.

"I would hope it's an opportunity for our campus to interact with an important election," he said. "It's part of the University's educational responsibility to host things like this."

And as Campus Police prepared campus for Clinton, Thomas Waltersdorf, a volunteer for Sen. Clinton's campaign and former N.C. State student, said his team was making sure students were informed of the event.

Arriving on campus as early as 7 a.m. Monday morning, he said campaign volunteers passed out fliers, hung posters, and told students where Clinton would speak.

Monday was Waltersdorf's first day volunteering for the campaign, and while Clinton spoke on many of the same topics that she discussed at Saturday's Young Democrats of North Carolina Convention, he said the experience remained fresh.

"If you see the same event over and over again, you might hear the same answers and questions," he said, adding that new audiences ill bring about new issues.

When students entered Talley Student Center Monday, volunteers asked them to sign their names and give contact information so the campaign can know who is coming to events.

Waltersdorf, with other volunteers, would move on to Clinton's other stops at Peace College and UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as some private meetings, he said.

"A lot of us are doing it out of our own desire," he said.

But he said he had not gotten to spend much time with the former first daughter.

"I got to shake her hand and say 'Hi' Saturday," he said. "I would love to [talk to her]. Maybe I'll get the chance."

Since the Clinton campaign opened its state headquarters in Raleigh, Waltersdorf said it has been working to build a grassroots foundation in the state, to help gain votes and delegates in the May 6 primary.

North Carolina is not used to being the focus of a primary as it is now, he said, so there was little establishment for them to work with before the new headquarters opened.

Clinton answered students' questions for about an hour Monday, on issues including the war in Iraq, universal health care and higher education.

Tony Howard, a senior in political science and philosophy, asked Clinton to sum up her mother's campaign in one sentence.

"Of course [her response] wasn't one sentence," Howard said. "I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't ecstatic [with her response]."

Howard said he was glad he was able to go to the event so he could make more informed decisions when choosing between Barack Obama and Clinton in the primary.

"I had to miss my philosophy of science class," he said. "It's the first class I've missed in two years."

But, Howard said it was worth missing class for.

"The country as a whole comes before one missed class," he said.
© 2008 Technician via U-WIRE