Professional Politician Visits Eau Claire
Posted: November 2, 2012
As we waited patiently to see if we would be one of the lucky 1,200 or so who had a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak at the Ramada Convention Center in Eau Claire this week, I began to reminisce about some of my prior encounters with presidential candidates. I was lucky enough to meet President George Herbert Walker Bush in person while he was running for the Oval Office in 1988 as well as democratic presidential hopeful Al Gore in 1991 while he was campaigning in Cadott.
The time spent with the senior George Bush was definitely the better of the two real-life meetings. As a member of the local radio news media, I was afforded the opportunity to sit around a table with my colleagues and ask questions of the man who would become our 41st president. The best part was the contest among the media contingent to see who would get five private minutes with Mr. Bush. I drew the largest straw and beat out a young reporter from CNN named Wolf Blitzer.
The most difficult part of the interview with the Republican nominee for president was to come up with a question that had not already been asked in the media room. Fortunately, I prepared a list of potential questions in advance and ended up asking Mr. Bush what he would do if there were ever an international terrorist attack. Little did anyone know three years later that Iraq would invade Kuwait - while Bush was president.
Tennessee Senator Al Gore, Jr., was running for the democratic nomination to be president as he canvassed Wisconsin. Gore held a news conference and photo opportunity at a large farm in Cadott. As a member of the radio news media, I was again able to get front and center with the candidate. I remember eating a wonderful farm breakfast and laughing as Gore attempted to milk a cow. The next year he would become Bill Clinton's running mate.
We didn't make it inside to see and hear former President Bill Clinton at the Ramada this week. In fact, we just missed out by about 120 people. But, Clinton, being the professional politician that he is, made an impromptu speech to those of us who were left waiting outside the hotel ballroom's main entrance. We stood about 30 feet away from former President Clinton as he rallied the troops for President Obama. As always, Clinton was smooth and engaging. It made me wish I was a member of the mainstream daily media again.
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