Bill: Keeping “The Speech Short and the Day Packed”

By Leigh Simons

Feb 4, 2008 6:22pm

As we continue to check in with ABCNews’ off-air reporters for tonight’s piece, here’s what’s happening on the trail with Bill Clinton as he campaigns for his wife.

Sarah Amos Reports:

I’m sitting on the floor of Pacific University’s arena in Stockton, CA waiting for a Hillary Clinton "Solutions for America" event hosted by President Bill Clinton to begin.  All week the President has been on-message, and today is no exception.  He’s determined to reach voters across California, even if it means shortening his stump speech.  In Sacramento, Clinton talked for just 26 minutes.  Trust me, in nearly a month of covering Clinton I have NEVER heard him talk for just 26 minutes.  But it is all about reaching as many voters as possible today, so today’s mentality seems to be to keep the speech short and the day packed.

And the crowds don’t seem to mind.  California LOVES President Clinton.  He just took the stage in Stockton and the whole place erupted in applause.  "This state has been so good to me I want to begin by thanking you," Clinton just told the crowd.  Half these people are college students, which means they barely remember when Clinton was even in office, but by the looks on their faces it doesn’t seem to matter. 

While the crowd is energized, it is clear that this week has taken its toll on those with the campaign and the few traveling press members (like me) who have done their best to keep up with President Clinton via commercial travel.  We’ve been across the country since last Tuesday.  We’ve been to two, sometimes three states a day.  That’s a lot of time in airport security lines and a lot of meals from Chick-Fil-A, trust me. 

The press has seen a different side of Clinton this week.  A distant Clinton first off – no real press avails, no going to the rope line, no candid moments that we love to capture.  And secondly a well-behaved Clinton.  He doesn’t take questions from the crowd or improvise his speeches.  He sticks to his stump, selling his wife as the best candidate for the presidency.  There have been a few digs at Ted Kennedy’s role in No Child Left Behind (something that coincidentally started right after Kennedy endorsed Obama) and some confusion over how many candidates are still running for President (apparently there are only 4 candidates left between the Democrats and the Republicans, leaving it open to interpretation whether Huckabee, McCain or Romney dropped out in Clinton’s mind).  But for the most part it has been a mild-mannered Clinton on the campaign trail.

Quite a change from my days with Clinton in Nevada and South Carolina, but then again in this election nothing seems to stay the same forever. I don’t have a clue as to what new version of Bill Clinton will emerge after Super Tuesday, but I do know that I will be right there following him every step of the way. 

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