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Published: Saturday, 2/23/2008

Toledo crowd: Clinton worth the extra wait

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hillary Clinton is joined by Gov. Ted Strickland at the Whitmer High School rally. Some consider
the Ohio governor a possible running mate if Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton is joined by Gov. Ted Strickland at the Whitmer High School rally. Some consider the Ohio governor a possible running mate if Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination.
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They waited outside in the cold and inside in anticipation, but they said Hillary Clinton was worth the wait.

An estimated crowd of more than 3,000 braved the winter elements - some standing outside for more than two hours - to hear the Democratic presidential hopeful deliver her message in person.

"This is history, you know," said Marcia Malkin, 50, of Toledo, who stood outside for two hours to hear the New York senator speak. "She's the woman of choice, the first woman ever to run for president."

Weather issues in Columbus - more specifically the de-icing of her airplane - prohibited Mrs. Clinton from taking the stage at the Toledo high school until 10:35 p.m., more than 1 1/2 hours after she was scheduled to appear.

The same rock 'n' roll songs played repeatedly on loud speakers during the wait, and the Whitmer High pep band did its best to keep the crowd entertained, but by 10:30 p.m. the overflow crowd was silent.

Once Mrs. Clinton and Gov. Ted Strickland took the stage, however, the crowd found its voice.

And Mrs. Clinton delivered, drawing frequent applause in a speech she cut short when an elderly woman needed medical attention at 11:20 p.m.

"She's for the middle class," said Warren Goodrich, 21, of Toledo, amid raucous cheers during Mrs. Clinton's speech. "She doesn't want to see the middle class slip into poverty. She wants to see it do better."

Pam Bloomfield of Bowling Green and her doll seemed to like what they heard from Hillary Clinton at last night s rally. She was among more than 3,000 in the crowd at Whitmer High School. Pam Bloomfield of Bowling Green and her doll seemed to like what they heard from Hillary Clinton at last night s rally. She was among more than 3,000 in the crowd at Whitmer High School.
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The line to get into Whitmer High stretched from the building's entrance around the football stadium and onto Whitmer Drive.

Clinton staffers said the line still reached that far when they closed the doors after 9 p.m. They estimated about 1,000 people were turned away.

Those who arrived early passed the time by waving signs, purchasing Clinton buttons, and engaging in political chit-chat.

Brooke Zuniga, 34, of Toledo, arrived at the school just after 6 p.m., carrying a "Toledo [loves] Hillary" sign. A staunch Clinton supporter, she said she was more excited to hear the New York senator speak than she was to see pop star Justin Timberlake perform live in concert last year.

"I was on my cell phone in the car when I first heard she was coming to Toledo and I almost crashed my car I was so excited," Ms. Zuniga said.

Patricia Teachey, 43, a teacher in Toledo Public Schools, stood in line beginning about 5 p.m. to hear Mrs. Clinton speak. Ms. Teachey said she was undecided on how to vote but was leaning toward Mrs. Clinton.

Tom Barnocki, 49, of Toledo, said he came to hear Mrs. Clinton because he was completely undecided about his vote. He said he also will go to the University of Toledo tomorrow to hear Mrs. Clinton's rival, Sen. Barack Obama.

"I think they both have the idea that Washington needs to change," Mr. Barnocki said. "Health care is of the utmost importance, and we need to start spending money on Americans instead of people overseas."

Daniel Mahanger, 27, of Perrysburg arrived about 5:30 p.m.

"I'm voting for Hillary because she has a specific plan," Mr. Mahanger said. "She's not all talk, and when it comes down to it, she's the one who knows how to fight the Republican machine."

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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