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Throwback Thursday: A President is Present

President Bill Clinton reacts to a friendly audience in the Campus Center Ballroom on Nov. 3, 1994, at an Interactive Education event. UAlbany sophomore Daniel Baich sits beside the President. (Photo courtesy of  University Archives)

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 13, 2017) — Not many Democrats were inviting President Bill Clinton to boost their re-election campaigns in November of 1994. The U.S. economy was in the doldrums, Clinton’s healthcare proposal (“Hillarycare”) was rejected by an overwhelmingly Democrat Congress, and his poll numbers were very weak.

But New York Governor Mario Cuomo, in a tight battle with State Senator George Pataki, welcomed Clinton to four NY campaign events, the last at UAlbany. The University had never had a sitting U.S. president on campus. It had come close with New York Governor Grover Cleveland, as president-elect, speaking here on Jan. 27, 1885, five weeks before his Inauguration. But no actual president.

With Secret Service agents seemingly everywhere, Clinton’s motorcade sped through the tunnels to the Campus Center, where he attended a "Statewide Interactive Education Event" in the Ballroom for local school children and administrators. He then headed over to a Cuomo campaign rally at the Phys Ed Building, packed with students and other local Clinton admirers.

The New York Times reported the next day that the two men spoke before “a clamorous, partisan rally” and a sky-blue banner that read ‘The Comeback Kids.” "They're watching you, New York, to see where you believe the country should go," Clinton told the crowd.

The crowd may have felt one way, but the state went the way of 1994’s “Republican Revolution.” Up in the polls the day of the event, Cuomo lost in the general election five days later by a 49-45 margin.

A U.S. president on campus, however, remained a triumph for UAlbany.

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