Bill Clinton here today
By Shavonne Potts, Kathy Chaffin and Joanie morris
Former President Bill Clinton will campaign for his wife in Salisbury and Kannapolis today as part of a high-speed, seven-city N.C. tour.
Though times changed throughout Thursday and could change today, local residents should be able to hear Clinton speak in a garden at the south end of Salisbury Station at 11:30 this morning.
Kannapolis officials were still saying Thursday that the former president will then arrive in Kannapolis at 12:30 p.m. and stay for 30 to 45 minutes at A.L. Brown High School.
(The Post will update its Web site, www.salisburypost.com, throughout the morning as any changes occur.)
Clinton will be dashing across the middle of the state, also making rapid-fire appearances in Greensboro, High Point, Gastonia, Hickory and Asheville.
On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, the New York Democrat competing with U.S. Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, made appearances in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem.
Sen. Clinton’s campaign also announced that her daughter, Chelsea, will appear Saturday at a state Young Democrats convention in the Research Triangle Park.
Meanwhile, Obama also is campaigning in North Carolina and organizing groups locally. See related article this page.The state’s May 6 primary has become a key battle for the Democratic nomination, with Clinton and Obama are essentially deadlocked for Democratic delegates currently.
A staffer for Sen. Clinton’s election campaign worked outside the south entrance of Salisbury Station Thursday evening setting up the Tom E. Smith Place for former Bill Clinton’s appearance this morning.
The public is invited to attend the rally. Clinton will be speaking from a platform on the paved walkway leading out of the depot.
The media will be stationed to his left and the public to his right. Salisbury Police will have specific areas of the depot barricaded.
“The depot will be blocked off. Most of the activity will take place on the Council Street side or the southside,” Deputy Police Chief Steve Whitley said.
He added there will be a place for the public. He’s also not sure of the crowds that might gather. “There’ll be a certain amount of people who will come see him because of who he is,” Whitley said.
No matter how many people show, the department is prepared with security.
“The Secret Service will handle his movements, and we are there to support them,” he said.
In Kannapolis, Assistant City Manager Eddie Smith said former President Clinton will arrive about 12:30 p.m. and stay 30 to 45 minutes at the A.L. Brown Activity and Fitness Center, 415 E. First St., Kannapolis.
“Any time you can get that national exposure, I think it’s good for the community,” Smith said Thursday. “We’d welcome all the candidates.”
The national publicity that Kannapolis will receive from the campaign stop will be a boon for the city.
“You can’t buy the type of publicity that will be broadcast worldwide when they list Kannapolis as a stop,” Smith said. “It certainly gets our name out there and allows us to showcase ourselves.”
Smith said the city is doing nothing special to prepare for the event.
“We like to think our city’s prepared for any visiting dignitary,” Smith added. “We’re confident that the city is going to be presenting itself well.”
The Kannapolis Police Department will be supporting the Secret Service at today’s event. Kannapolis Police Chief Woody Chavis said the department would position officers inside and outside of the Activities and Fitness Center for crowd and traffic control mostly.
“We’re just going to provide security in and around it,” Chavis said Thursday afternoon. He suggested that people attending the event park on First Street, in the parking lot normally reserved for students, and walk to the fitness center. Students are on spring break this week.
“Treat it as if it was a football game,” Chavis advised.
No one knew about the visit before Clinton’s Secret Service detail contacted him on Wednesday, Chavis said.
Thursday at lunch, Chavis got final word and the location of the event. He said the Police Department is handling the event without having to call in extra officers.
According to Ellen Boyd, public information officer and community schools coordinator for Kannapolis City Schools, the fitness center is open to any public rentals. The rate for most organizations is a $90 flat fee and $60 per hour. The rate for nonprofit organizations is a $60 flat rate and $40 per hour. She was unsure if the Clinton campaign has nonprofit status or not.
The application from the campaign said staffers expect 500 to 600 people to attend the event, and Boyd said the fitness center can accommodate about 800.
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