What happens when you find out you have less than 48 hours to prepare for a visit from a former president? The call came yesterday evening for Elaine Adkison of Nacogdoches. She's had cell phones to her ear ever since. The political consultant is juggling her office assistant duties at Nacogdoches High School ever since receiving a couple of unexpected phone calls. In between phone calls Adkison said, " I had two calls yesterday and was hired by the Clinton campaign yesterday evening to work on their campaign for the next few weeks until the primary." The other call was from the Barack Obama campaign. Adkison laughed, " It was a difficult decision, I tell you."
Once committed to Clinton, Adkison got her first assignment. She was to prepare a visit for former President Bill Clinton by Friday. Adkison said, (They told me) " please set up locations and venues and get a crowd to visit the president on Friday." The first people she called were Democratic Party chairs across East Texas. Nacogdoches County Democratic Chair Tim Garrigan said, " All the arrangements have been last minute arrangements."
This year Texas Democrats are in tune with one another. They know how important the state is to the presidential race. Garrigan said, " For Texas to be in play this late in the primary season is very unusual and very exciting for me."
Political analysts call the Bill Clinton visit an "A" list" visit. Nacogdoches and Lufkin aren't exactly on the main leg of the campaign trail. There are other primaries before the Texas primary, but none are as important to the Democratic nominees than Texas. SFA political science professor Dr. Ken Collier explained, " Texas and Ohio are the big prizes. Everybody is focused on those. One is because they are a big source of delegates and that makes them a big prize, but secondly, everyone has decided the next measure of the candidates is going to be in Ohio and Texas and so when the pundits are talking about whose doing well, they're going to look at Texas and Ohio and so are the candidates. "
Those working closely with the Hillary Clinton campaign say that Senator Clinton is planning a swing through East Texas. Likewise, East Texas Democrats are expecting a visit from Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, all attention is focussed on Bill Clinton's visit. Last minute changes may occur, but this is President Clinton's schedule as it stands now. Clinton will start his barnstorming Friday morning in Texarkana, followed by stops in Longview and Tyler. The former president is expected to appear in Nacogdoches Friday evening at 5:45 at the Stephen F. Austin State University Baker Patillo Student Center. Following that event Clinton will proceed to Lufkin to speak in the Pitser Garrison Civic Center at 8:30. Also, if you'd like to hear more of President Clinton's East Texas speeches, we'll be streaming his speeches from Texarkana at 8:30, and Tyler at 3:15, live on our website, ktre.com.
With all the publicity, Adkison and chairs want to make sure they have a crowd in Nacogdoches and Lufkin. Brenda Willett plans to be there. She said, " Absolutely, I wouldn't miss it for the world." The Hillary Clinton backer represents poor people in legal battles. She wants a predominantly conservative East Texas to listen. Willett said, " I hope people will be open to her. I think she is going to be received very well. "