Hillary Clinton chats with Angelou during campaign event at Wake Forest

Sen. Hillary Clinton told a crowd of more than 2,000 people at Wake Forest University Friday evening that as president she would issue a declaration of energy independence, and she called on the students in the audience to join in an effort she likened to the space race of the 1960s.

“Enlist in this energy revolution,” she exhorted the crowd to a standing ovation. “Give us the edge and our innovative leadership in the world.”

Clinton’s remarks came during a campaign event billed as “A Conversation with Sen. Hillary Clinton and Dr. Maya Angelou.”  Angelou is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest and a longtime Clinton friend.  Angelou, who wrote a poem for Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration, closed the Hillary Clinton campaign event by reading a prose tribute to her.

Clinton promised, if elected, to launch investigations of oil-market manipulation, argued for using the strategic petroleum reserve to ease tight supplies and proposed lowering gasoline taxes by replacing them with windfall-profit taxes on oil companies.

During nearly an hour of leisurely but wide-ranging discussion, Clinton and Angelou talked about the importance of education to economic well-being, the need to reinvigorate manufacturing in America, and finishing the task of achieving full equality.

“Neither of us were written into the Constitution,” Clinton remarked in a reference to her Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama.  She said their long battle for the nomination sends a message to young boys and girls of all backgrounds that anyone can still grow up aspiring to run for president.

Angelou recalled her long association with Clinton going back to the candidate’s days as First Lady of Arkansas.

“I said 20 years ago, if this woman ever runs for anything, I’ll put my hand behind her back,” Angelou told the audience.  Regarding Clinton’s ability to win the nomination, Angelou called her “a long-distance runner” and pledged to support her to the end.

Eager spectators began lining up outside Wait Chapel in the morning for the scheduled 6 p.m. event.  By the time security officers began screening and admitting attendees, lines of people three to five abreast stretched around both sides of Hearn Plaza (the Quad) all the way back to Reynolda Hall, more than 100 yards away.  The crowd filled the chapel’s roughly 2,000 available seats.

After the event concluded, Clinton stepped down from the stage and remained to greet and sign autographs for several hundred supporters as a recording of John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” played.

Clinton is the first presidential candidate to accept an invitation to speak on campus that Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch extended to all candidates last year.

Wait Chapel has been the site of two presidential debates, in 1988 and 2000, held by the Commission on Presidential Debates.  The commission has named Wake Forest as a backup site for debates planned this fall.

Statement from Wake Forest University: As an educational institution, Wake Forest is committed to promoting the free exchange of ideas, which includes providing a forum for speakers who express a wide variety of political views. The university’s tax-exempt status, however, requires that it not engage in any political campaign activity, which means the university is prohibited from endorsing or opposing any candidate for public office. Wake Forest takes its obligation in this regard very seriously. This event does not represent an endorsement by Wake Forest of any candidate for public office.


Categories: Events, National