Clinton to rally at U. for governor's re-election
Former President Bill Clinton will visit the University today as a part of a salvo of endorsements from big-name public figures to endorse Gov. Jon S. Corzine.
Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. in the College Avenue Gym.
Besides endorsing Corzine, campaign organizers said he may talk about topics such as public service, important global events and health care. Clinton's visit is in conjunction with endorsements from Vice President Joseph Biden, President Barack Obama and Caroline Kennedy for Corzine's re-election.
"[The endorsements] may help but events don't make voters change their minds from one candidate to the next," Associate Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics John Weingart said. "What they do is motivate people who already lean toward the Democrats but aren't enthused about Corzine enough to go out and vote for him."
The Clinton endorsement comes amid low poll numbers such a 49 percent disapproval rating by a recent New York Times poll. The poll also shows 54 percent of New Jersey voters replied positively to Corzine as a strong leader, while Christie received 38 percent.
The same poll showed 47 percent of voters saying Corzine explained his position clearly while Christie received 30 percent.
Voter turnout for gubernatorial elections is generally lower than presidential elections, so endorsements like these are likely to motivate people to help him, Weingart said.
"The president's visit to Rutgers is definitely something that would interest a lot of students," said Rutgers University Student Assembly Chair Werner Born. "Someone of that level of importance to visit Rutgers is very beneficial to the University community."
Clinton's visit to the University is important for many reasons, like the sense of history and novelty of seeing the former president, Weingart said.
"Bill Clinton [is a] masterful public speaker; it is a valuable experience to hear someone who is so skilled at speaking," Weingart said. "Clinton also tends to be a serious person; he will speak about important world or local events that will affect many lives around the world."
Others reflected on the public service address aspect of the event.
His presence may act as a role model for students so they become more involved in on-campus events, President of Rutgers Chapter of Lambda Upsilon Lambda Bairon Rivas said.
"It's exciting to see such an important figure come to Rutgers. Student activity has fluctuated in my five years here at the University, and the organizations that have been active are usually underrepresented," said Rivas, a Rutgers College student.
The issue of student's involvement in public service projects has been important for Clinton since he was the governor of Arkansas, Weingart said. Clinton created AmeriCorps, and he believes all students should devote some time to public service as part of the social contract for living in this society and that they will be enriched for it.
"If you look at the University, there is a huge number of organizations, such as those in the greek community, that have students that are very active in the University," said Born, a School of Engineering senior.
There are many students that work in community service, but there is always room for more — it is something you can never have enough of, he said.
"My fraternity has been expanding its community service projects since I've been here. I know a lot of students that partake in a lot of activities," Born said. "For example, the third annual Scarlet Day of Service is coming up, and I know that will be a huge event."
Some students felt lukewarm about the event.
School of Arts and Sciences senior Nicole Parfett said she is not excited for Clinton's visit.
"I'm not really that into politics," she said.
Angela Sharp of Salem County said she wishes Clinton would not endorse Corzine.
"I kind of like Bill Clinton, and I don't want him to like Jon Corzine," she said.
In the past, Corzine has cut arts funding and threatened to cut the Governor's School — a state-funded summer program for talented rising high school seniors, she said.
School of Arts and Sciences junior Kate Statton said people view both Hillary and Bill Clinton positively and negatively, and his visit could go either way.
"Of course you think of all the controversy towards the end of his presidency, but I still think it's pretty important for the University," she said.
— Mary Diduch contributed
to this article