WINTERSVILLE - Hundreds of Tri-State Area residents waited outside Indian Creek High School Thursday to catch a glimpse of a former president as well as support President Barack Obama's bid for re-election in November.
Former President Bill Clinton brought out the crowds during a stump speech at the high school Thursday afternoon while barnstorming the state, and those gathered to see the former president and hear his speech were excited to do so. Wintersville resident Samantha Fisher said she was there to witness Clinton's speech and show her support for President Obama.
"I'm here to support (the president)," said Fisher, adding she also supported the president's health care law. "I'm a single woman with three kids. I work at Big Lots part time. With passage of the health care bill (Obama) helped get health care for my boys.
WHITE HOUSE MEMORIES — The family of former Secret Service agent and Steubenville resident Thomas Fante went to see former President Bill Clinton Thursday at Indian Creek High School to attempt to meet the former president who once held Tiffany Fante, Fante’s daughter, in his arms. Thomas Fante served in the Secret Service under President Clinton in the White House during the 1990s. His family at the event included, from left, his wife Karen Fante; daughters Tiffany Fante and Taylor Fante; son Trevor Fante; and mother-in-law Delores Triana.
-- Mark J. Miller
PROTEST — A handful of protesters stood at the entrance of Indian Creek High School Thursday during former President Bill Clinton’s speech there to show their support for presidential candidate Mitt Romney and protest President Obama’s administration and its policies.
-- Mark J. Miller
"I think (Obama) understands what it's like to be a working woman," continued Fisher, adding she is attending Eastern Gateway Community College while working and supporting her children. "I'm excited to hear (Clinton's speech). I think he was the best president we've ever had. I took my kids out of school early to see this. They may never get another chance to see something like this."
Karen Fante said she was there for a different reason - her husband, Steubenville resident Thomas Fante was a Secret Service agent protecting Clinton when he was in office.
"(My husband) was a Secret Service agent while President Clinton was in the White House," said Fante, adding her daughter, Tiffany, had her picture taken with the former president when she was only a year old. "The photo was taken in 1998 during the Fourth of July."
The Fante family brought the photo of the former president with them to Thursday's event. Fante said her daughter is now a 14-year-old student at Indian Creek High School, and "we hope to get close enough to President Clinton to have him see this."
Brian Shannon of Steubenville said he was there to see whom he considered the greatest president in modern history speak about his support for President Obama.
"I think Bill Clinton has been the best president I've witnessed in my lifetime," said Shannon. "I'm glad to see (Clinton) supporting the current Democratic administration.
Shannon said he supported Obama because of "his willingness to change the way things have been done in the past. He became president when our country had hit rock bottom, and he's doing a good job. But he still has a lot more to do. Not everything can be done in just four years. He has his work cut out for him."
Pat and Barbara Davis of Bloomingdale also said they were there to support the current president.
"I'm here because I'm a big Obama and Clinton supporter," said Barbara Davis. "I hope Hillary (Clinton) runs for president in 2016. This is a chance to hear the greatest president in my lifetime."
Davis also criticized the current makeup of the Republican party, adding both parties couldn't be farther apart on the way they view the country.
"It's a totally different feel here," she said. "It's because Democrats have a different worldview than a Republican. We view the world for the better."
Pat Davis echoed his wife's sentiments.
"I'm here to see the best president since John F. Kennedy and to support President Barack Obama," he said.
Not everyone there was happy with Obama's policies or his presidency. A small group of protesters stood at the school entrance with Romney signs. Ryan Sofio of Steubenville said he was there to show his displeasure with Obama and the president's policies as well as show support for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
"For me the No. 1 issue is abortion," said Sofio. "As long as you allow a culture of death in the country it has bad side effects for the rest of society.
"The other big issue is the national debt. In (Obama's) four years of office, our national debt has gone from $12 trillion to $16 trillion."
Sofio said he also supports Romney because of his business experience and his record of achieving a balanced budget while governor of Massachusetts.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)