Thursday, March 03, 2011

Bill Clinton at UAlbany

Although I haven't been well the last few days, I didn't feel like sitting around the house or calling in sick to work, especially with President Bill Clinton scheduled to speak in Albany. You can barely see him in this fuzzy cellphone pic I snapped from the media area. (Hover and click on the pic for higher res shots taken by University photographer Mark Schmidt) Those up-close pix you see on TV and in the papers were taken from the same spot, by reporters and camera operators armed with telescopic lenses!

Wednesday night was very cold, with a icy wind and a touch of snow in the air as I headed out to the University campus. Although I arrived before the 7pm media check-in time, I parked what seemed like miles from the SEFCU arena. (Getting OUT of the parking lot later was tantamount to a 'Keystone Kops' episode. Authorities looped traffic around and back in a confusing fashion instead of allowing what should have been a relatively normal but bumper-to-bumper flow. It wasn't too bad for me, but many other drivers were frustrated!)

It is difficult when you have a prolific speaker like President Clinton to go through minutes and minutes of recorded audio and pick out highlights when the entire speech is in itself a highlight. I could have filled 20 minutes, but squeezed what I could into 4 and a half. Albany County Executive Mike Breslin was among regional officials attending the Clinton speech, which he called "an amazingly optimistic approach to where we are in the world today." And indeed it was. The spark of optimism burned thru each and every person who had sat in that auditorium as they made their way into the cold night. The words of change and hope for the future will stick in everyone's memory, I'm sure.

The Times Union mentioned one of the topics I had to pass on: the volatile situation in the Arab world right now. Clinton said he was concerned about Middle East because people try to hijack every revolution. He said democracy could flourish in those countries and praised the young people for risking their lives to bring it about peaceably. He closed the topic with a "wait and see" flavor applied... had the media been granted access to the President, I'm certain that would have been one of the items Mr. Clinton would have been asked a zillion questions about.

A 2010 Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll determined Clinton is regarded as the most popular politician in the United States.

PS - if anyone finds a "Bill Clinton UAlbany Transcript" link, please drop it in the "comments" area below! THANKS!

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