Bill Clinton to speak at Town Hall


Bill Clinton to speak at Town Hall


Date: September 24, 2009
by: Loren Mayo | Staff Writer


To host a former president, you’ve got to have the right chair.

Bill Clinton made one special request regarding his visit to Sarasota Sept. 30 for the Ringling College Library Association’s Town Hall Lecture Series: He prefers to answer questions while seated in a leather chair.

After shopping for and trying out what she hopes will be the perfect chair, Olivia Thomas thinks she’s got her bases covered with a contemporary, brown leather chair with just a touch of chrome from Home Resource.

Thomas, Town Hall chairwoman, will pose questions to Clinton in an identical chair during the lecture, to be held at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, at Van Wezel.

Bringing in a wow-factor name such as Bill Clinton for its 30th year of the lecture series and 35th anniversary of the association, the RCLA hopes to expand the series by appealing to a younger demographic.

“We wanted someone big enough that the name would draw media attention,” Thomas said. “We have a world-affairs theme this year for our regular series — who better to fit in than Bill Clinton with his global initiative?”

A committee of 15 people started planning for the event last spring. The committee had previously contacted the Harry Walker Agency — the same agency that represents Clinton — to feature former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for Town Hall 2010.

“We couldn’t get him (Clinton) for the regular series because his schedule doesn’t allow enough time for that format, but we kept him in mind,” Thomas said. “He’s kind of got rock star status.”
Bringing someone so high profile to Sarasota has turned out to be almost easy, thanks to Clinton’s secret service.

Typically, the lecture committee makes airport pick-ups and provides transportation, accommodations and handles the speaker’s schedule.

“The good news is that we have less to do because of secret service,” Thomas said. “When dealing with an ex-president, we’re not dealing directly with him, partly for security.”

To avoid the leaking of pertinent information, the committee won’t receive details on Clinton’s arrival or departure plans or be informed of his hotel arrangements. Thomas works primarily with Clinton’s agent and the advanced staff member who will arrive this week to do the necessary walk-through and figure out the logistics.

“Everything has to be approved,” Thomas said. “Press releases, invitations, anything with his name. We can’t advertise on the radio, billboards or TV. They are very particular with how you address him, but it makes it easier once you get one thing approved.”

There are about 300 tickets remaining for Clinton’s lecture, entitled “Embracing Our Common Humanity,” which range in price between $75 and $125.

“I’ve never seen him speak personally, but everyone who has says he’s so charming and charismatic,”
Thomas said. “Whether you like him politically or not, he has gone on to do so much globally around the world and has an interesting story to tell.”


Bill Clinton Town Hall Lecture Series
When: 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30
Where: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail
Tickets: $75 to $125
Information: Visit or call 925-1345

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Currently 2 Responses

  • 1.
  • Why is it that the majority of people make it their business to take the actions or lack thereof of another personally?

    I cannot wrap my head around this to save my soul. Why is it that some people are so caught up in allowing the actions or lack thereof of another to influence their own actions or lack thereof?

    How powerless is he or she who chooses this fate for thyself?

    Perhaps, you might want to make a different choice Margie and stop worrying about what Bill Clinton did or didn't do and worry more about what you do or do not do to make a difference in your life or the lives you surround. Your comment certainly contains an enormous amount of negative energy surrounding the actions or lack thereof of another. I experience you as an extremely powerless individual.

    Good Day!
  • Stayce Pavey
    Wed 30th Sep 2009
    at 11:35am
  • 2.
  • Can't this ex-President go anywhere without embracing something? Frankly, it's an insult to have him in our fair city. I never cared for people who force their attentions on others or who have the temerity to fool around with the office help.

    If anything, he should be paying the public to come hear him speak. Better still, why don't we pay to keep him OUT of Sarasota?
  • margie digiovanni
    Wed 30th Sep 2009
    at 11:04am
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