Hillary Clinton's campaign stops at SOU

Friends of Hillary Clinton visited Southern Oregon University on Wednesday as part of The Hillary I Know initiative, a strategy that involves several smaller events with people who know Clinton personally.

Jehmu Greene, the former president of the Rock the Vote campaign, and Maria Echaveste, who served as the deputy chief of staff under Bill Clinton, explained to a handful of students that they chose to support Hillary because of her experience that they had seen in action first-hand.

"We don't have the time to lose as someone learns on the job," said Echaveste, who cited Clinton's quarter-century of experience, as first lady, senator and social reformer. The two met on a foundation board in the 1980s, and it was Hillary who convinced Echaveste to campaign for Bill Clinton.

"I know her. I respect her. He seems OK," she said about her thought process to join the 1992 campaign. Even before Bill was elected president, Hillary had long been involved in education and health care reform, something people often overlook, she said.

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Jehmu Greene speaks about her support for Hillary Clinton on Wednesday afternoon at Southern Oregon University.

Thom Larkin | Daily Tidings

Audience members questioned Greene and Echaveste how they could be sure Clinton had the best chance to defeat McCain in the election, how to convince their friends that she is trustworthy, and how to encourage people to cast their votes based on facts, not on how the candidates are portrayed in the media.

They also encouraged the women to take a message back to Clinton to show her compassionate side more often.

"I need to know about her heart, her regular old gal-ness, because that's not what these 20-year-olds can see, and I don't see it either," said Deltra Ferguson, the women's resource center coordinator who said she has heard many students excited about supporting Obama because they sense he has integrity. "It's very evident on Obama's face, and I need to see that with Hillary."

Although Hillary herself was not there and fewer than 30 people attended, Greene and Echaveste said these small discussions are key to the campaign.

"This isn't going to be won on television," Greene said. "This is going to be won one conversation at a time. The reason this race is so close is because conversations like this one are happening all over the states."

Attendees said they appreciated the chance to ask questions from those close to Hillary.

"It would have been nice if it was a little bit bigger, but it was scheduled for the middle of the day when everyone's in class," said community member Daniel Garcia. Although he is steadfast in his support for Obama, he said he tries to keep an open mind.

"I think it chipped away at my support a little bit," he said.

Freshman Laurie Rosenbluth admitted she was receiving extra credit for attending the event, but said she was glad to have the opportunity to meet campaigners in person.

"They convinced me, but I feel like I can't vote for her because it's not fair," she said. "I haven't heard Obama's people talk."

For the students who made it to the event, organizers said they thought the event was a success.

"I hear a lot of students say 'Why should I vote?' because they don't think their voices are heard," said Heidi Hess, a junior who works at the Women's Resource Center and helped organize the event. "But I think through events like these, they're learning that yes, their voice is heard."

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Maria Echaveste speaks to students in the Britt Ballroom at SOU about support for Hillary Clinton Wednesday afternoon.

Thom Larkin | Daily Tidings

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