Former United States President Bill Clinton, joined by democratic congressional and current candidate Timothy Bishop (D-Southampton), spoke to the students on Wednesday, Oct. 27 about their futures and how important it is that they vote for Bishop on election day on Nov. 2.
The line to see Clinton speak in support of the Get Out the Vote rally with Bishop extended all the way from the Indoor Sports Complex to beyond the Student Union.
“You’re committing malpractice for your own future if you don’t vote,” Clinton told the crowd.
The crowd radiated excitement and anticipation throughout the duration of the speakers who spoke before Clinton, such as New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, who had the crowd in a raucous laughter.
“Everything you need to know about politics, you learn when you first learn how to drive a car, it’s that simple. If you want to go forward, you put it into ‘D,’ if you want to go backwards, go into ‘R,’” Jacobs said to the crowd.
There was no calming down the crowd once Clinton was introduced, however. When he stepped up to the microphone, the room erupted into cheers, cameras shot into the air and the room was lit up by camera flashes.
For almost half an hour, Clinton spoke of all that Bishop and other democrats have done, as well as his accomplishments during his presidency, all of which were met with a booming cheer from the crowd.
The topic that was discussed in length was Bishop’s bill to direct more money towards student loans and increasing the time it would take to pay those loans back.
He also addressed President Barack Obama’s presidency and the amount of criticism he receives.
“It’s like saying you could get behind a locomotive going straight down hill going 200 miles per hour and stop it in ten seconds,” said Clinton in reference to the efforts Obama is making toward solving the financial crisis that began during Bush administration.
The event was heavily directed toward students and the impact that they have on the elections each year. It was noted that when Bishop was elected in 2002, a large portion of the votes came from the university.
During Clinton’s speech, he challenged the members of the audience to really think about the upcoming election.
“So here’s what I think you need to decide. Where are we? The facts matter. What do we need to do? Who’s more likely to do it?” proposed Clinton.
At the end of the rally, after Clinton had said his final “God bless you,” he and Bishop made their way to the front of the stage to meet supporters and fans who were scrambling for a photo or a handshake from the prominent political figures.
However, the buzz didn’t die down immediately after Clinton and Bishop had left for good.
“I loved it. Especially the part the loans because I’m one of them,” said Theophilus Hamblin, 24, who skipped an internship meeting to attend the event. “The loans that I have are like $20,000 so if it’s fixed rate then that’s good for me.”
Students and community members walked out of the sports complex staring at their hands in disbelief that they just shook the former president’s hand or that they were within feet of him.
“It’s like a dream come true because I never thought I would see him live and he’s just so bright and he knows so much about what he’s talking about and presents the positions so clearly,” said Anna Gualandi, a woman from Sayville who dropped all her plans when she heard about the rally on the radio earlier that morning. “He’s a rock star.”