Despite Tardiness, Clinton Gets Warm Reception at Washington-Lee


(Saturday, February 9, 2008 8:05 AM EST)

Even though many of the students present for Hillary Clinton's rally at Washington-Lee High School on Feb. 7 won't be old enough vote in November, seeing the presidential candidate up close and in person wasn't something they would ever pass up.

“It's such an honor,” said junior Claire VanWagner. “It's a once in a lifetime experience.”

“It's exciting because it makes [the election] more real,” said freshman Joshua Patecell.

Although the students and community members waited in the Washington-Lee auditorium for more than two hours for the senator from New York, they hung in there and gave her a warm welcome.

The presidential candidate - whose national campaign headquarters is located in Arlington - was introduced by Sheriff Beth Arthur.

Clinton touched on issues such as bringing troops home from Iraq, high-interest mortgages and international relations, but one topic that got a particularly strong response from the youthful crowd was making college less expensive.

“Let's make college affordable again,” Clinton said. “What's happening is heartbreaking. I don't think a family should have to refinance their home to send their child to college.”

Clinton stressed the need to get back to direct lending with low-interest rates, and proposed that students receive money for college costs if they agree to give two years of national service.

Students had been promised there might be time for questions, but none were taken. Still, the young people left with distinct impressions of the senator's positions.

“I agreed with her points about college,” said sophomore Cecily Leahy. “I'm looking at how much college costs, and not only is it hard to get in, but there's the huge worry of tuition and costs. Keeping costs as low as possible is important.”

Clinton's universal health-care plan also struck a chord with students.

“My grandfather just passed away from diabetes,” said sophomore Carmen Framinan. “I want people to be able to afford the medicine they need.”

The fact Clinton is a woman also seemed to resonate with the students, and many of them said they consider her one of their role models.

“She's made it really far as a woman and as any presidential candidate,” said Genna Schwartz. “She's so strong and powerful. She gets a lot of harsh comments, but she still keeps going.”

“I think it'd be good to have a female president, and I've heard she's really fair,” said freshman Patrick Kelley.

And even though the vibe at the rally seemed pro-Clinton, not everyone was sold on electing her as their future president. A number of students said they weren't sure whom they wanted to be president yet, and would need more time to learn about the candidates.

“Even though I can't vote, I'm following the election. I'm leaning towards Obama right now,” said VanWagner, who will miss being 18 years old on Election Day by three days. “But I have to look into it more.”

Caroline Benitah, Elena Crivella, Linda Ewell, Cindy Andrade and Vica Trofimora were among the students who attended the Hillary Clinton rally at Washington-Lee High School on Feb. 7.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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