October 22, 2008: Barry Cauchon
If I have not mentioned it before, I volunteer for a high-powered speakers bureau in Toronto. Last week, President Bill Clinton was our guest and spoke on the economy and the upcoming Presidential elections. As tempting as it would be to share the content in detail of his speech, I feel this blog is far better served by talking to you about the President himself and his personal character.
I have been lucky enough to witness three live speeches by President Clinton in the last year. His presentation style is easy going but authoritative. He can take complex concepts (such as the economy) and make them easy to understand. And above all, he is so very likable and engaging that you really enjoy just listening to him speak.
But it’s the things that you don’t see on stage that have always impressed me about this great man.
On this particular day last week, President Clinton was scheduled to do a meet-and-greet photo session with about 100 paying guests. Two of our volunteers had been asked to assist the President’s staff with this part of the visit. They were given the task of holding the purses and other personal belongings of the people being photographed with the President as they did not want to be burdened with these items.
After the last person had been photographed with the President, he looked around and asked “Is there anyone else”? As there were not, and the fact that he was running fifteen minutes behind schedule, what he did next, tells a lot about this man. He looked toward our two volunteers, smiled and asked them to get the attention of the photographer. Our volunteers summoned the photographer, not knowing what the President required. But as they came back with her, President Clinton walked up to our two volunteers (two very nice senior ladies), put his arms around their shoulders and asked the photographer to take their picture together. They were both stunned and honored. As volunteers, we do not approach our guests for autographs or photographs. But here he was, the ex-President of the United States, insisting on taking this picture, even as his own staff was urging him onto the stage to start his speech.
So, regardless of your politics or of your opinion of President Clinton’s presidency, I can say that you will not find a more genuine person who is willing to give of himself to others. I believe he walks his walk and talks his talk.
If you ever have an opportunity to see President Clinton speak live, I urge you to do so. He’s straight forward and captivating. And he is very very likable.
By the way, when asked during his speech, who will be the next President of the United States, President Clinton answered “Obama……by a landslide”!
Time will tell in the next two weeks if this is the case.