The magical week for Jon Corzine continued Tuesday night at the College Avenue Gym. The place was rocking from the get go. There is no doubt about, this crowd was there for Bill Clinton. Everyone knew it and yes that includes all the other speakers there tonight.
The gates were supposed to open at 7:30 PM. I got there around 6:15 and by then there were already a couple of hundred people in line waiting to get in. Across the street were a grand total of 12 protesters who were hardly creative. Among the signs they were carrying were “No you can’t”. Really original there. There was a guy dressed as a chicken and holding a sign that said “Cluck U Corzine”.
The event was held at the College Avenue Gym at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The College Avenue Gym actually sits on the site of the stadium where the first ever college football game was played way back in 1869. The Scarlet Knights beat Princeton by a score of 6-4 on that day.
Members from the Corzine camp were giving out “Corzine/Weinberg” buttons and also t-shirts that said “Yes We can 2.0” I got my hands on a button but was not able to secure a T-Shirt. This one guy from the campaign did say he’d bring one over but passed by me twice saying “I’ll be right back” only to toss shirts to people directly behind me. Are you kidding me? Someone from the Corzine camp did get in touch with me via twitter and asked for my phone number. Just got a message from them claiming that they did have a shirt for me but didn’t see my reply with phone number until it was too late. I don’t know whether to believe them.
The evening started off with Middlesex County Democratic chair Joseph C. Spicuzzo. He was doing his best to bring humor to the event from the start. He speaks with a stutter, so he made sure to clarify for everyone that he wasn’t drunk but actually had a stroke last year. He was on the stage to introduce the President…………of Rutgers University Richard McCormack. Nice swerve which most of the crowd didn’t see coming. As expected it was a fairly young crowd and I’m sure it was the first political event for most of them. I’m sure a lot of them weren’t aware you have to sit through a ton of local politicians before the main event starts.
Honestly don’t remember much from Richard McCormack’s speech. I guess that pretty much says all there is to be said. He did talk about Bill Clinton making a trip to Rutgers University shortly after winning his first presidential election to make a policy speech. He also talked about Corzine being a friend of Rutgers University. Right around this time there was a loud “R…..U…..R……U” chant. That is a common chant at Rutgers football game where the student section yells “R!” and everyone else replies with “U!”. The chant inside this gym was about as loud as any of the recent Rutgers home games.
Three Freeholders were up next coming up one by one to announce support for Corzine and reminding everyone in New Jersey to vote “Column A” on November 3rd. Nothing out of the ordinary here either. Crowd was getting bored by this point. Carol Barrett in particular was really bad. She was literally reading her speech off of a paper and lost her place a couple of times leading to awkward pauses.
Up next was Dymir Arthur. He is a Rutgers graduate from the Class of ’09. He gave a really good speech urging the young voters in attendance to get out and vote. He emphasized that “us young people have more power then we realize.”
There was about 15-20 minute long break up next (might have even been longer). The crowd let it be known as to why they were there with a loud “We want Bill!” chant but were drowned out by the music being played. They were tossing a lot of Corzine T-Shirts into the crowd during this break too.
One thing I noticed was a disturbing lack of security. I asked a campaign worker and got to go through the entrance that people with the VIP “blue tickets” were taking. When I went through I was shocked to find out that only screening done was to check my ticket. There were no metal detectors at this entrance. There was no secret service or even local law enforcement officials checking you at this entrance. Me and plenty of other people just walked through by just showing our tickets. This is particularly depressing if you’ve read recent reports on how much the workload for the secret service has increased.
When the event resumed Mr. Spicuzzo was back at the podium. He gave a short biography of himself because he had failed to introduce himself earlier. He didn’t judge the crowd well at all. He started to talk about the newly expanded Rutgers Football Stadium. This got him some boos through the crowd. This stadium continues to be a sore subject with Rutgers students. For those not familiar with the situation, Rutgers Stadium just went through an expansion project which saw capacity rise by almost 12,000. The cost for the project was over $100 million. A lot of Corzine tied big donors had pledged to raise money for the project. When the time came though the recession forced most of those donors to back away leaving Rutgers University in a tough spot. The school ended up taking a large loan which obviously didn’t sit too well with the student body or some of the football season ticket holders as ticket prices soared while the team has taken a step back. This is a problem anywhere there is big time sports. People who don’t like sports will always have problems with big stadiums at a public university while tuitions are rising. They don’t like that the athletic department has such a large budget and that football and basketball head coaches make so much money. What they choose to ignore is that these sports bring in a lot of money for the school through merchandise, TV rights and ticket sales.
Our next speaker was State Senator Bob Smith. Found out a couple of days ago that he was my State Senator now that I live in Piscataway. He talked about knowing Hillary way back when they were both teens and his family had a summer cottage in Pennsylvania. He joked and said hopefully “President Clinton was listening backstage because if I had played my cards right I could have been a President.” The line got a huge applause and a “Hillary” chant. Turns out that this crowd loves both Bill and Hillary. Mr. Smith was out there to get introduce candidate for Lieutenant Governor Loretta Weinberg.
This is the first year New Jersey is having elections to elect a Lieutenant Governor as it is a newly created position. Weinberg isn’t the world’s greatest speaker and this is a big problem for the campaign that I will talk about below. Everyone knows that she wasn’t Corzine’s first pick but after the whole corruption episode was thrown into the spotlight.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I believe Jon Corzine is the man for the job right now. As Vice President Biden said yesterday he’s governed through some tough times well, he deserves a chance to govern as things get better. He kept his speech relatively short even joking that the people weren’t there for him but to see Bill Clinton. The Governor did talk about Loretta Weinberg being an advocate for women in Trenton. Corzine reminisced bout the Clinton years saying during those 8 years we “created 23 million new jobs.” He urged everyone to vote and to make sure you get others around you to vote. He referred to the infamous 2000 elections to emphasize the importance of every of every single vote. He said we would be a much different country if the Clinton/Gore policies had been around for the last 8 years.
Bill Clinton was simply Bill Clinton. He did what he does best, better then pretty much anyone else out there. The Corzine camp better turn this speech into a campaign commercial fast. They were way too slow with the Obama one in July. Bill pointed out Rutgers Womens Basketball Coach and Basketball Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer being in attendance adding that “Hillary is outside of the campus the world’s biggest fan” of Coach Stringer. The man knows his audience. Bill Clinton in 15 minutes made a better case for Jon Corzine then Jon Corzine has all summer. Now of course Mr. Clinton is a great public speaker and to be fair there aren’t many in the country who are even remotely close to him. Clinton put on his glasses for emphasis and started reading off some New Jersey related statistics that show the state at or the near the top in a lot of key categories. Graduation rate is among the best in the country, early education is not only alive and well it is diverse. Public schools are scoring good scores on tests. More and more children have healthcare. Bill makes sure to point out that he took Weinberg’s law from New Jersey that saw to it that new mothers and their babies stayed in the hospital for 48 hours when his administration set the federal guidelines. Bill Clinton has this aura to him. It was fascinating to see this crowd fired up for him. As Mike Memoli of “Real Clear Politics” pointed out, most of the students in attendance were in diapers when Bill Clinton first won election in 1992.
The best argument for Jon Corzine’s election unfortunately is being made by others. As Christina Bellantoni pointed out Corzine is becoming a “sidekick at own events.” It was the case back in July when President Obama came to campaign. It was true Monday when Vice President Joe Biden swung by the Garden State for a little campaigning. It most certainly was the case today as former President Bill Clinton fired up supporters at Rutgers University. Wednesday Barack Obama will do the job once more. It may not be the worst thing in the world if as Corzine is being overshadowed by big speakers that him and everyone around him continue to tie Christie to George W. Bush. It should be a slightly disturbing trend for the Corzine campaign and I’m pretty sure the Corzine people are aware of this.
Looking forward to heading out to the Barack Obama event tomorrow. If you have attended any on of these recent rallies or are heading out to one of the upcoming ones let me know.
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A dozen people protesting….that’s all there were. It was a step up from the 10 that were at the Biden event.
The top portion was filled all across but these bleachers to the right had empty VIP seats through the event. Don’t know why they weren’t filled with people who actually there at the event. Keep in mind they turned away hundreds from the event.
Professor Clinton giving the facts.
The Secret Service’s worst nightmare as the crowd rushes forward to shake hands with Bill Clinton.
This obviously wasn’t intended to look like this but ends up looking pretty neat.