Clinton shaking hands with students after his speech. Photo by Najib Aminy

By Matt Calamia

Pritchard Gym at Stony Brook University was packed full of students, faculty and members of the community Wednesday afternoon to see former President Bill Clinton give a speech in support of Congressman Tim Bishop’s re-election, and to educate students on the importance of voting on Nov. 2.

Clinton, along with Jay Jacobs of the Nassau Democratic Committee and Rich Schaffer of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, were there to show their support for Congressman Tim Bishop(D) who is running for re-election against Randy Altschuler(R).

Each speaker pressed the audience, a large majority of college students, on how important is it to vote in this coming election, and not just in presidential years.

“This election is about lots of things,” said Bishop, before asking who’s side the audience was on. He was happily answered by the hundreds in attendance that they were on his.

According to the officials, there are 5,000 registered voters on Stony Brook’s campus. Bishop recalled that when he won his first election in 2002, it was by the slim margin of 2,200 votes. “I need every one of those 5,000 votes,” said Bishop that was replied with an applause.

The biggest issue Bishop and Clinton focused on throughout the convention was Bishop’s involvement in the new student loan policy, where students who have graduated have 20 years to repay their loans at a fixed rate of ten per cent per year. If they begin careers in teaching, nursing or other fields that better the community, they will be given lower rates.

Bishop stated that Altschuler has stated that if he is elected, he would work to overturn that policy.

It was no secret that many in attendance were there solely to see Clinton, and the ovation he was given was tremendous. He defended the Democratic party throughout his speech, stating that many of the problems the nation faces began after his term, when George W. Bush and the Republicans took over the office.

Clinton also pointed out that many Republicans state that the Obama administration has spent too much money in the 20 months since he took office. Clinton urged those in attendance to give Democrats two more years to get out of the ‘hole’ the country is in, stating that the two years they held both houses and presidency was half the time the Republicans were given to dig said hole.

The former president pleaded with the students to “light up social networks” like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the word to vote on Nov. 2, and to vote for Tim Bishop.

“I was sort of already on board, but it was good to hear those facts,” said Nick Zanussi, a senior, who said he was already voting for Bishop, and came to see Clinton speak. “It was a good experience.”

“The energy inside of there, it was so powerful to be inside with your classmates in that type of environment with a powerful political figure, it was like no other,” said Alexandra Santiago, a sophomore. “I’m so happy I skipped class.”

Clinton’s final message before leaving the stage was a last ditch effort to get young people and their friends to vote. If you don’t vote, the former Commander and Chief said, it is like having others “play Russian roulette with your future.”