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By Jane Smith
Bertie Tullis of Saegertown was sitting in a lawn chair Saturday before 10 a.m. on the lawn behind the Patricia Bush Tippie Alumni Center of Allegheny College.
She was waiting to experience what thousands of others did Saturday — an historic event in Crawford County: A speech by a former president of the United States.
In this case it was Bill Clinton.
It is only the second time in recent history — if ever — that a former president spoke in Crawford County. The first was the late Gerald Ford when he was keynote speaker at a Meadville Area Chamber of Commerce dinner in 1983.
“I like him. He was a great president,” said Tullis of Clinton and why she was at the scene three hours ahead of the scheduled time.
Clinton arrived on time to greet the estimated more than 1,800 persons who stood in the hot weather to hear him promote his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, as the better nominee for president.
It was clear from the start that the former president had done his homework before coming to the college and Crawford County. “This is the birthplace of the direct primary,” he said, noting “direct primaries are good.” He said they get “more democratic with a small d and a large D.”
Eleven thousand people have voted for delegates in a primary versus 2,200 in caucuses, he said. “You should be proud to have given birth to that right here.”
Clinton talked about Allegheny College joining as a partner in his foundation for energy conservation. “We are working with colleges and universities all over America,” he said, noting they produce 6 percent of the gas emissions. One reason is many of the buildings are older and use a lot of energy. Energy use is high because of the many dormitories and computer labs and buildings open 24 hours a day.
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