PHOTO by COURTNEY STRANGE
by BRAD ROLLINS
Former President Bill Clinton made a surprise stop in San Marcos on Tuesday as voters statewide were deciding the next turn in a rollicking election season.
Campaigning for his wife in today’s Democratic Party primary, Clinton milled around the third floor of the LBJ Student Center at Texas State University, several people who saw him said. As the surrounding crowd grew, Clinton left after about 25 minutes at the insistence of his Secret Service detail, said Courtney Strange, the Texas State Democrats president.
“He said he had been in 31 places in Texas in the last two weeks not to mention 30-something in Ohio. He said he was real tired but that it is an exciting time in our country’s history,” Strange said. “And he said he couldn’t wait for tonight to be over.”
That’s when he’ll know if his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is still in the running against Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whose come-from-behind campaign has pit experience against eloquence. In Hays County, more than twice as many people voted in early voting through last Friday as voted in total in 2004 and 2006 combined.
With its large young and Latino populations — two major battle ground constituencies — San Marcos has been a center of excitement. Last week, Obama spoke to a crowd estimated at 18,000 to 20,000. A few days earlier, Chelsea Clinton stopped in at the Hays County Courthouse in an event attended by many of the county’s Democratic Party establishment including County Judge Elizabeth Sumter and Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe. Two weeks ago, Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy rallied students for Obama.
Clinton was en route from San Antonio to Austin when he decided to stop here, Strange said. Wearing a Burnt Orange tie — the University of Texas’ school colors — Clinton said “he had wanted to go to the courthouse but they were running behind,” Strange said.
Many of the College Democrats who greeted Clinton said they actually support Obama. “We took off our Barack shirts before we went to see him,” said Mathew Golding, the Texas State Democrats treasurer.