Former President Clinton Visits Chesapeake

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By JOHN DOWNS, SR.

One of the superstars of the Democratic Party breezed into Chesapeake the weekend before the presidential election on Tuesday, November 6th. Former President William Jefferson Clinton’s appearance at Indian River High School created an excited and jubilant buzz among party loyalists. You know it’s a big deal when the CNN trucks arrive in the early morning hours to set up for a live television feed.  The crowds started queuing up at 7 a.m. for the 11:30 am start time and the parking lots were filled to capacity by 9 o’clock. Secret service agents, sporting ear bud communication devices with curly wires hanging down, magically began to appear, seemingly out of nowhere. Chesapeake police officers were in abundance and Democratic Party staffers were scurrying around the Braves’ gymnasium, handing out placards, making check marks on clipboards, and dealing with last minute details.

Nearly 2,000 of the party faithful were safely crowded onto the modified gym floor for this political rally, with a precision and efficiency that would have made a sardine packer proud. At 11:20, the atmosphere began to slowly change from festive to anticipatory. Among a sea of light blue posters urging a “get out the vote effort”, a respectful posture arose in the crowd as the Pledge of Allegiance was recited and our National Anthem was sung.

Terry MacAuliffe, a longtime Clinton friend and supporter, then took the stage. As McAuliffe finished an unnecessary crowd warm-up, he introduced the 42nd President of the United States. President Clinton was welcomed with a thunderous ovation lasting several minutes. His 40-minute speech was peppered with humor, standard “stump” issues, and an intimacy that only Clinton can deliver. From the first word on, the crowd  succumbed to the Clinton charm with frequent shouts of “We Love You, Bill”.  A standard campaign stop turned into a real presidential happening for Chesapeake Democrats. Clinton referred to the smart things President Obama has done during his first four years which, the former president mentioned humorously, included “his appointment of Hillary as Secretary of State.”

President Clinton exuded enormous energy and poise for a man 67 years old. The rigors of campaign stumping were not evident except for a mild hoarseness in his voice. It would get worse at his next two stops in Virginia. But on this morning in Chesapeake, Bill Clinton was at his very best. As he worked the crowd around the stage after his speech, the loud speakers echoed Stevie Wonder’s hit appropriately titled, “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.” This victory lap seemed to re-energize President Clinton. There is no doubt he would have shaken hands with everyone in the auditorium if time permitted. Yet no one went away disappointed. Finally, as he raised both arms in triumph, President Clinton disappeared behind the stage curtains, moving on to appearances in Roanoke and Bristow.

 

 

 

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