ORONO – The Wing family didn’t bring their daughters to see Hillary Clinton at the University of Maine on Saturday morning because they are Democrats. They brought their girls so they could see firsthand a strong woman in a leadership role.
“I just thought with Hillary Clinton being a senator and running for president, it would be a good experience for the girls,” said Tamara Wing of Orono. “Hopefully, it will inspire them.”
Wing said she’s training to be a Girl Scout leader, and all of her daughters have been or will be involved in the Girl Scouts.
The couple’s oldest daughter, Ashley Wing, 15, said she was interested in Clinton’s position on issues such as health care and the economy. She also noted that the war in Iraq is a huge topic on the minds of Mainers.
“Some of her views are basically the same as mine,” Ashley Wing said of Clinton.
More than 2,000 people showed up to hear the presidential hopeful speak at UM’s Student Recreation and Fitness Center. About 200 had to be turned away because the building quickly reached the capacity allowed under state fire codes.
“I think it’s incredibly exciting. For many students, their minds are not made up,” UM Student Government President Derek Mitchell said Saturday.
Mitchell, 22, is a journalism student and ardent Clinton supporter.
“This is so much better than watching it on CNN,” he said.
Fellow student and broadcast journalism major Elizabeth Carpenter, 19, agreed.
Carpenter, who said she’s a Republican, is considering voting for Clinton in the November presidential election.
“I’m kind of on the fence,” she said. “Today will probably help in determining some things.”
Although the event was a deciding factor for some, others already had their minds made up.
The Powells of Orland consider themselves independents, but said they declared a party so they could vote for Clinton in the Democratic caucus Sunday.
“We’re not going to see Obama,” Lorie Powell, 65, said Saturday. “We just want to come see [Clinton] and listen to her.”
“We don’t think Obama’s ready, to be quite honest with you, to be president,” said her husband, Dick Powell, 63.
After having watched televised debates, he said Clinton always has much more substantive answers than Obama.
Those who were allowed into Saturday’s main event saw Clinton for more than an hour, but those who were turned away weren’t entirely left out.
After speaking to the crowd at the recreation center, the senator made a stop across the road at Hilltop Dining Commons. People who were turned away were offered the opportunity to gather there for free coffee and a warm place to wait after hearing there was a chance that Clinton might make a detour there on her way to her next scheduled event in Lewiston.
“We just want to meet her,” said UM student and women’s soccer player Laura Martel. She waited with a handful of her teammates after a 7 a.m. practice for a chance to see Clinton. Their wish was granted and the women even got a quick group photo with the senator before she left the commons.
“We kept our hopes high,” teammate Veronique Fleury said, a smile stretching across her face.
Surrounded by an entourage of Secret Service agents and police officers, Clinton made a brief appearance in the dining commons before being swept away in a black Chevy Suburban that would take her to her next scheduled event.