Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
Montana State Univers i t y - Northern’s gymnasium was filled Tuesday with people listening to former President Bill Clinton as he campaigned for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who is in a tight race against Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for the Democratic nomination for president. People were lined up at the door at 7 a.m., with more than 60 waiting in freezing temperatures the doors were scheduled to open at 9:45 a.m. by 8 a.m. The low temperature, recorded at the Havre airport at 6:03 a.m., was 12 degrees. People in line said they were excited by the chance to see the former president speak. “I really loved what Clinton did while he was president and I hope to get my book signed,” said Jeremy Keller, 24, holding up a copy of “Giving” by Bill Clinton. The crowd of thousands was let into the gymnasium early the doors were scheduled to be opened at 9:45 a.m. and they opened at 9:20 a. m. and waited nearly an hourand- a-half to hear the former president speak. Clinton was scheduled to speak between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m., but didn’t step up to the podium, coffee cup in hand, until about 10:40 a.m. In the meantime, the crowd, pressed tightly together on the floor and filling the upper seating on the south side of the gym, had to entertain itself. Part of that was one man doing flips for $1 in the walkway of the upstairs seating. Clinton was introduced by Montana S e n . Ke n Hansen, D-Harlem. Hansen said he was contacted Monday night to see if he would be interested in making the introduction. “I said, You bet, it’s an honor,’” Hansen said while waiting in the gymnasium. “I think this is the biggest highlight in Havre in some time. I think people are excited.” Allen “Woody” Woodwick, a member of Havre’s City Council, said he wanted to hear about Hillary Clinton’s plans, especially regarding health care, the economy and the conflict in Iraq, but was also there because of the exciting opportunity. He brought his son, Erik Woodwick, 15, to see Clinton as well. “Whether yo u agre e with Clinton’s policies or not, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see A past president in Havre,” he said. Erik Woodwick agreed. “I’m really excited,” he said. “It would be really awesome to shake his hand and meet one of the presidents.” Erik Woodwick got his wish: he went with his father to a meet-andgreet with Clinton for local Democratic leaders before Clinton spoke to the crowd. He was not alone. Some 500 students were expected to come to the speech school buses abounded in the university parking lot, with some on the street blocks away. Katie Brown, a sophomore at Shelby High School, said her school had sent a bus and any students who wished to attend were excused. Brown said she had decided to take the opportunity. “I think it would be pretty interesting to see someone famous,” she said. Shelby High School junior Seth Moberly said he plans to vote in his first election this year, but does not know which candidate even which party he will vote for. “I’m just looking at everything,” he said. Moberly said he wasn’t sure the presentation by Clinton would be enough to make up his mind. “He’s going to have to be pretty good,” he said. Many standing in line at 8 a.m. were avowed Democrats, although not all were guaranteed votes for Clinton. Keller said he is a Democrat, but hasn’t made up his mind whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. “I’m about 50-50,” he said. “They both make good points.” He added that he didn’t know if the speech would be enough to sway him. “It depends on what I hear,” he said. Donna Biem, 60, said she is in complete support of Hillary Clinton, and came out to hear Bill Clinton and support the Democratic Party. It is thrilling to have the first president, current or former, come to Havre since Harry S. Truman stopped in town on a train ride in 1952, she said. “You have to give them credit for finding Havre,” she said. She added that she thinks whoever is elected president will have a difficult time correcting the troubles the country has including the economy being in a slump, being in a the war in Iraq and problems with immigration and other issues. “I feel sorry for any president who has to clean up this mess,” Biem said. Moberly said, after Bill Clinton spoke for about 45 minutes, that it wasn’t enough to guarantee his vote for Hillary Clinton. “I’m not sure,” he said.