Bill Clinton in Medford


Bill Clinton at North Medford High.  All photos by David Moore, who is not actually a cat.  

I saw Bill Clinton in Medford today.  Like all immediate family members of the presidential Clintons, he’s campaigning for Hillary around the country.  The Democratic nomination is still up for grabs, and it’s a tight race. On May 20, Oregon will hold its primary, nearly dead last in this year’s rush to nominate a successor to Bush Jr.  The remaining four states will hold primaries on May 27 and June 3.

Campaign stops in Oregon are unusual for big name politicians.  Oregon isn’t a populous enough state to sway campaign buses away from larger western states like California and Texas.  This election cycle, however, Oregon could tip the Democratic nomination towards either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.  Bill and Barack both made reference to Oregon’s unusual turn at influencing national elections–Obama’s remark came last week at Kids Unlimited in Medford, and Clinton’s came today in the North Medford High School Auditorium.


The event was scheduled for 4:30 PM, so I showed up at 4 PM and joined the spectacularly serpentine line. Admission cost only your name, address, and phone number on a half sheet of paper, with optional boxes for additional information.  I contemplated writing an alias, but didn’t feel like risking denial of entry.

I could’ve left it blank.  A volunteer snatched it up without a glance and ushered me inside.  Much in contrast to the heavy security detail at the recent Medford Obama rally, I saw only Medford police standing to the side at the entrance, with the occasional earpiece-and-suit-guy sifting through the crowd.  I was not searched in any way.


At 5:20 PM, Bill still hadn’t appeared.  A friend overheard a suit mentioning Clinton’s late flight.  A Hillary campaigner briefly took the stage for some pep-rally-style shouting and t-shirt giveaways.  Standing in a high school gymnasium, it seemed fitting, if a little overwrought for my tastes.  

Bill finally showed up at around 5:30 PM.  His speech was exactly what I expect from this ex-President: funny, poignant, and bursting with charisma. Clinton lamented the loss of payments to Oregon counties as an exchange for the state’s logging activities, a major factor in last year’s closure of Jackson County libraries.  He panned Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, the Iraq war, and economic policies, which he blamed on the current sub-prime mortgage crisis.  He told stories of golfing with a fireman who served during the 9/11 attacks.  He recalled Hillary coming home in tears long before the Clintons entered the limelight, frustrated over the malnourished kids with cigarette burns she saw during public service.


After his speech, Bill passed by the front row, shaking hands, signing autographs, and most surprisingly, engaging in several conversations with crowd members.  My aforementioned friend told me he thanked Clinton for creating the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, a 53,000 acre swath of federally protected lands in southwestern Oregon.  Bill looked my friend in the eye and said, “Thank you, I’m really proud of that.”

If you want more details on Clinton’s speech, The Medford Mail Tribune and Fox 26 News had a strong presence, and undoubtably will publish extensive coverage.  Also, dozens of amateur videographers were present, so I’m sure it’ll pop up on YouTube.  Anybody up for posting it on LocalsGuide? 


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