Clinton endorses Corzine
Former President Bill Clinton walked out to a packed, roaring crowd last night in the College Avenue Gym to campaign in support of Gov. Jon S. Corzine.
"It is very important that the young people of New Jersey go out and vote — it's your future," Clinton said.
Before speaking about Corzine, Clinton addressed the audience about some major issues affecting the United States and the world. He cited the lack of stability in the financial crisis, climate change and security issues, saying it is an exciting time to live because we can see the solutions to these issues.
"We have to create a world with more winners with shared benefits, shared responsibility and shared results," Clinton said. "So, if this were a political science class, I would be asking this question for an essay: ‘Why in the world is this a close race?'"
He then began citing a list of Corzine's accomplishments in office: increased funding for student aid while reducing the budget, ranking first in the nation for high school graduation rates and closing the racial gap in school performance.
"There's no other governor in the country where you can stand up and read such statistics on," Clinton said.
He said young people have a special responsibility to vote because their interests are on the line.
"This is exciting to see so many people interested in what the future of the state of New Jersey, and what state of America, will be in the future," Corzine said.
He said he wanted to protect students as well and that is why he put a cap on tuition and continues to support higher education funding despite a smaller overall budget.
"We're always proud to have President Clinton visit Rutgers. His first visit was during the first year of his presidency and Rutgers shares his interest in spreading the importance of public service," University President Richard L. McCormick said.
The speakers before Clinton included Middlesex County Freeholder Carol Barrett, Middlesex County Sheriff James DiPaola, McCormick and recent alumnus Dymir Arthur.
"I've met many politicians but I've never met any as caring and genuine as Jon Corzine," Arthur said. "Students are more powerful than they know and they have a duty to fulfill that role."
Chants of "R-U" filled the gym between speakers.
The College Avenue Gym took about two and a half hours to reach capacity; the number of attendees was about 2,200, according to the New Brunswick fire marshal, said Corzine's Press Secretary Elisabeth Smith. When the doors closed, a large group of people stood outside, many still holding tickets.
"My legs were going numb for a couple hours but when Clinton showed up, it was well worth it," New Brunswick resident Michelle Kiorsch said. "[Republican gubernatorial candidate] Chris Christie can't take care of his own health, how can he take care of the health of New Jersey?"
Some students felt energized by Clinton's speech.
"The event was pretty good; I thought it was a great opportunity to see someone so great for our country," School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Klesti Muco said. "I always thought that [Corzine] was the greatest guy for the job — I just hope that a lot of other people see this now as well, and I just hope that he comes through."
Other students were reassured of their vote for Corzine.
"Bill [Clinton] broke it down so eloquently and made it easy to understand for students like us. It's important because … it made everyone at Rutgers understand why it is important to vote for Corzine," School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Andrew Marcano said. "I had friends who were indifferent, but now I know they will vote for Corzine."
Students outside who did not attend the event could hear the cheering inside.
"The line was huge and there were a lot of people to see Clinton," School of Arts and Sciences senior Mayank Patel said. "I don't know if I will vote for Corzine, but the people seemed really excited."