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Former President Clinton Makes

By Staff | Dec 31, 2007

The importance of the upcoming January third caucuses was a highlight of the campaign visit of former President Bill Clinton in Emmetsburg Thursday evening. Clinton spoke for nearly an hour in an appearance on behalf of his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign at the Smith Wellness Center.

Around 250 area residents provided an attentive audience for the former Chief Executive, who was introduced by former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack.

“We need to pick the best person possible to be our next president,” Vilsack told the crowd. “For the Vilsack family, that person was an easy choice – Hillary Clinton.”

“The person who knows the job best, and who knows her the best, is with us today and it is my privilege to introduce a man who needs no introduction,” Vilsack told the crowd. “Mr. President, this is a wonderful community, a community that has taken on some great economic challenges, a community that is reclaiming its lake and a community that celebrates itself about as well as any community can in Iowa, and I’m certainly pleased to let you know that these folks will be helping us. Mr. President, these are my friends, my neighbors and supporters from the great state of Iowa. Ladies and Gentlemen, President Bill Clinton.”

Clinton thanked Vilsack for his assistance and for the support he and his family have shown the Clintons over the years. “In the eight years that he served you as governor, he was one of the two or three finest governors in America,” Clinton said. “He accomplished so much for you.”

Clinton then thanked several local individuals for their support of Hillary’s campaign efforts, including John and Iveta Kerber.

“John told me that he knew my mother form meeting her at the race track in my hometown in Arkansas,” Clinton told the audience. “Nothing he said could have touched my heart more. My mother would be so proud of Hillary if she were alive today. She might even have missed a day at the races, but I’m not too sure about that.”

Clinton also thanked County Supervisor Leo Goeders and Emmetsburg Mayor John Schad and his wife Jan, and got in a little fun at the mayor’s expense. “Jan is a supporter of Hillary and John is a Republican and I’m a Baptist, but I’m a believer in one-day conversions, so I’m here to pray for his conversion and service,” which drew laughter from the audience and a big grin from the former president.

The President, who also recognized Charlotte Goodlaxson for her support of Hillary’s campaign, as well as Tom Brotherton, Bill Lapczenski and Deb Knight from Iowa Lakes also thanked campaign volunteers for their assistance in making the facility available for the appearance.

Clinton reminded the audience that residents of Emmetsburg wards were in the actual location for Thursday’s caucuses. “Now, you know where to turn out, if you can remember how to get here,” which drew laughter from the crowd.

Clinton expanded on the moment of levity to make a point about Thursday’s caucuses. “You have to caucus for all the people who can’t be there,” he said. “Arguably, the Iowans with the biggest stake in this outcome are the members of the Armed Forces or the National Guard Reserves who have been deployed for duty and can’t come home to caucus.”

The president also talked about the people who have to work a night shift on caucus night and won’t be able to attend. “They need a president, too,” Clinton told the crowd. “One woman on Hillary’s last trip here literally broke down in tears because she had never been involved in politics before and she told Hillary that she desperately wants to caucus, but her employer said she could not have the time off.”

“Don’t think that the caucus isn’t important,” Clinton continued. “People across the country are looking to Iowans. People are going to draw their conclusions from what they see in the debates or from what they see in the ads or what they see in larger meetings that will be held in other places. So, in a sense, you are caucusing for them, too.”

Clinton took a few moments to acknowledge the assassination of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto earlier in the day. Clinton recalled worked with Bhutto during his first term in office and described her as a friend of the Clintons.

“This is a stark reminder that we can not take our democracy for granted, because there some people who are prepared to die for that level of freedom that we just assume we get when you show up at the Iowa Caucus,” Clinton said.

The president commented that the field of candidates for the presidency are all good people whom he is acquainted with. But when it comes to who would be the best president for this moment in history, “I don’t think it’s a very close call,” he said. “A president at a dynamic time has to have the vision for how to change America and has to have good plans with real meat on them to implement that vision,” he said. “Hillary’s vision is very straightforward.”

Clinton said Hillary has the vision to rebuild the middle class, and is the best equipped to restore America’s standing in the world.

The former President’s appearance was part of a day-long swing that began in Spencer and continued to Arnolds Park before stopping in Emmetsburg, and then continuing to Algona for a night appearance.