SPECIAL SERIES : 2006 General Election
Clinton Comes to SF to Support Prop 87
November 1, 2006 10:31 PM
Former president Bill Clinton spoke in front of City Hall Wednesday night to build support for Prop. 87, and although the night’s list of celebrity speakers included actress Eva Longoria and singer Bonnie Raitt, the focus was clearly on the former president.
“We have turned this into a rock concert, how about that,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom after a performance by Third Eye Blind vocalist Stephen Jenkins. “But we all know who the rock star is.”
At some points the crowd seemed to grow impatient with the speakers that preceded Clinton.
“We just came to see Bill Clinton,” said Academy of Art student Pakalyla Biehn, 20, whose eyes welled with tears when the former president finally appeared on stage.
Both third-year SF State student Samantha McCarthy and Biehn agreed that Clinton’s presence helps garner support for Prop. 87.
The proposition would place fees on oil extraction and use the money to fund alternative fuel research.
“It’s a good way to notify the public,” said McCarthy, a political science major.
Clinton spoke eloquently both in defense of Prop. 87 and in criticism of the oil-company-funded advertising campaign against the proposition, which he said cost $100 million.
“This debate on Proposition 87 is like so many decisions we are being asked to make across the United States,” Clinton said. “One side says stay the course and the other side says we can do better.”
The arguments against Prop.87 call the bill imperfect, he said, a point that should not deter voters.
“We can’t achieve perfection this side of heaven,” Clinton said. “We just have to be better than we are today and that is really easy.”
Clinton said that the proposition would help wean California off dependence on oil and create jobs.
For some, Clinton’s support of the proposition may be enough to gain their vote.
“I tend to respect his opinions,” said Bay Area realtor Noah Miller. “Him being for it puts a slant on my decision.”
Others remained undecided.
“I haven’t made up my mind. I smoke,” said Lolita Rivas who works at the Department of Health Department and was put off by the American Lung Association, one of the event’s supporters.
Other groups hoping to capitalize on Clinton’s popularity were also present to promote their causes.
“We are hoping to capture some of the energy and get people to come back to headquarters to volunteer,” said Clay Harrell, San Francisco organizer for the California Democratic Party.
“He is a good draw, so I hope he will help the Angelides campaign, because he’s the environmental candidate,” said Fran Larson who passed out Angelides support fliers.
Some of the crowd agreed that Clinton’s support of Prop.87 might help the Democrats in California’s gubernatorial race.
“He has got that star power,” said Judith Munoz, who works at the Department of Public Health and called the Democratic ticket for governor “lackluster.”
“If they get people fired up about the proposition, (people might think) I have to vote and while I’m here I might as well vote for Angelides.”
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