About 300 attend rally

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 29, 2008

Hillary Clinton made a local stop Thursday and delighted the 300 or so supporters who jammed into the Ohio University Southern Child Development Center.

The invited crowd gathered in the gymnasium where they saw D.R. Gossett, executive director of the Lawrence County Community Action Organization introduced Gov. Ted Strickland, who introduced Clinton.

State Rep. Todd Book was in attendance, continuing his support for Strickland and Clinton’s campaign. This was the first opportunity he had to see the candidate in action.

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He said it was no surprise to him that Clinton came to southern Ohio.

“I think it just shows that she cares about the small rural areas as well as the big cities,” he said.

Kenneth Lawson, of Pedro, was in the gymnasium too, even though he hadn’t expected to be. Some of Clinton’s campaign representatives were getting lunch at the Red Brick Oven Bakery and invited him, his wife and his daughter to attend.

“This is pretty exciting to see,” he said.

Linda Davis, education instructor at OUS and a member of the child development center advisory board, said she was surprised when she was contacted about the town hall meeting.

“This is such a small area, to have her grace us with an appearance is a wonderful thing,” she said. “To take the time to come to our area, it shows we count.”

She said most of the children at the center, up to five years of age, didn’t really understand what was going on, but the college-age students who work at the center were excited.

Bridget Sexton, of Wheelersburg, found out Tuesday that she was going to speak to Clinton and speak in front of the crowd with her.

“I didn’t ever think I would do anything like this, I am a little overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m not nervous about talking with her, but I’m a little scared about talking in front of a crowd.”

Sexton was chosen to speak because her daughter is in Head Start.

Another local resident who spoke with Clinton was Karen Reed of Coal Grove. Reed spoke about dealing with the Medicare system when it comes to her daughter’s medical needs.

She found out on Wednesday that she was speaking with Clinton face to face and before a crowd of media from all over.

“I was terrified all night, all day, during it,” she said. “But once I talked to her it was OK.”

Reed said she was a Clinton supporter. In fact, Bill Clinton was the first president she voted for.

“I’ve seen this woman for years, but I never expected to see her in person,” she said. “This was fun.”

Outside the center, people began gathering before noon for a chance to see Clinton.

Some gave up before Clinton made it outside.

“This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen,” muttered one man as he left around 3 p.m.

Cathy Alley, of Catlettsburg, Ky., waited in the below freezing temperatures for four hours.

“I wanted to see Hillary,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time she had waited for hours to see a candidate.

“I waited eight hours to see Al Gore at the Huntington Airport in 2000. I would only do that for the Democrats.”

Clinton made a brief appearance outside and signed a couple of items before being hustled off to her waiting bus.

Aaron Elliott, of South Point, got his picture taken with Clinton and got her to sign a campaign sign.

“It was worth waiting since 1:30 p.m.,” he said. “It was definitely worth it.”

Dale Wilkerson, of South Shore, Ky., wasn’t as lucky. He had brought his union paper for Clinton to sign but it didn’t happen.

“I got within 20 feet and got one picture,” he said.

Was it worth it for him?

“Nah,” he said. “But I know they have schedules to keep.”