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Clinton Courts College Vote at UCSB

Tight Squeeze to See Presidential Hopeful


This is an amended version of an article that previously ran at Independent.com.

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate and New York Senator Hillary Clinton showed up in droves to see their candidate of choice speak at UCSB on Thursday, January 17. Clinton followed other Oval Office hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Dennis Kucinich, and Barack Obama in courting favor among Santa Barbara County residents, but so far the former first lady is the first to apparently focus her attentions on the college crowd.

In her address to the more than 1,000 attendees, Clinton didn’t mention any of her opponents-either Democrat or Republican-until she was asked a question about the difference between her and Obama. After expressing “enormous regard and admiration” for her largest threat, she mentioned a quote from Obama in which he had said that he sees the president as a person who is responsible for casting vision. But Clinton said the president has to be both the CEO and the COO of the country and should run the government and maintain the economy. “I don’t think there’s a contradiction between experience and change,” she said. “They go hand-in-hand.” Clinton didn’t, however, shy away from digging into current President George W. Bush’s administration. The election is a good way of making “it clear to the Bush administration they are on their way out,” she said. “I can’t be any more outraged by Bush. You couldn’t make this stuff up,” she said, referring to Bush’s attempt to enter into a long-term security agreement with the Iraqi government without first getting approval from Congress. She then added a barb at Dick Cheney, saying “our vice president shot someone in the face.”

Recent Los Angeles Times polls indicate that California voters favor Clinton over Obama, 47 percent to 31 percent. Certainly, supporters seemed enthused enough by her appearance at UCSB that simply getting in proved problematic for some. Students began lining up for the meeting on Thursday morning, and by 5 p.m., all 1,000 tickets to the event had been handed out, leaving many Clinton supporters empty-handed and out of luck. Simi Valley resident Julie Mason drove up to UCSB specifically to hear Clinton speak. Not only did Mason and her party not enter the gym, but she said the uncontrolled crowd posed a physical threat. “Everyone was cramming us in against a brick wall. Suddenly, you couldn’t see your feet and we were being forced apart,” Mason recalled. UCSB student Marissa Foster agreed organization was lacking. “[I] think it’s legitimate to question a candidate’s capabilities based on these grounds. If she and her staff cannot organize an event for college students on the local level, what can they accomplish at the national level?” she said, although she also noted that the blame for the chaos should not rest squarely on Clinton and her staff.

Paul Desruisseaux, UCSB assistant vice chancellor for public affairs, noted that UCSB security staff was contracted to help with the event and even responded by supplying more personnel than Clinton’s staff estimated would be necessary. However, he also explained that the event itself was organized by UCSBTK. “Things would have happened differently : if the university was in charge of this kind of event,” Desruisseaux said. In fact, the following Tuesday morning, the campus’s Major Events Committee discussed how to prevent further confusion at future events.

I think they’re very lucky that no one got hurt or killed,” said Mason. Perhaps attesting to the strength of Clinton’s support base, however, Mason also said her experiences last week won’t affect her vote.

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