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Excitement builds for Clinton visit

Retired businessman Milt Goldman of Jacksonville is as giddy as a young schoolboy about presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton's visit to Jackson County on Thursday.

"It's going to be a blowout," said Goldman, 76. "I can't wait to see her. I can't wait to meet her."

And all this coming from a veteran activist who first got involved in presidential politics by stumping for Democrat Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s.

The U.S. senator from New York will hold what is being billed as a "town hall" event in which she will take questions from the audience at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Olsrud Arena at the Jackson County Exposition Park in Central Point. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

To reserve tickets for the free event, go to www.hillaryclinton.com/centralpoint.

Earlier that day, a fundraiser for Clinton will be held at the Ashland Springs Hotel.

Goldman was among more than a dozen enthusiastic volunteers at Clinton campaign headquarters in Medford on Tuesday calling the party faithful in Indiana and North Carolina, urging them to vote for their champion in those states' primaries. Another 120 Clinton supporters in the Medford area were calling Democrats in those two states from their homes, Goldman said.

"I look for undecided voters," he said. "I tell people on the phone to look back to 1983 when Hillary was the first lady of Arkansas. The Arkansas education system was in the bottom five of all the United States. Today it is in the top five.

"Hillary Clinton did that after her husband appointed her to the commission to reform the education system in Arkansas," he added. "Think about all the hundreds of thousands of kids going through all the Arkansas schools since 1983. Now that's a real achievement."

That doesn't mean Goldman, who originally hails from New York state, doesn't like U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the party's other presidential hopeful.

"I love Obama," Goldman said. "He's an inspiring, incredible, articulate speaker. He's wonderful. He has enormous potential. But he doesn't have Hillary's record. She has an unbelievable record of getting things done."

Fellow volunteer Jane Hagan of Shady Cove agreed.

"She has two things I look for in a candidate: She has a resume in public service with a lot of breadth to it and she has a plan," Hagan said. "She is approaching leading our country in an organized, effective way. I don't see that in the other two candidates."

In Ashland, Southern Oregon University professor Carol Voisin, who teaches ethical thinking for the 21st century, also is looking forward to attending both the fundraiser and rally.

"At first, I was for Edwards," she said of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. "When he dropped out, I started listening to Obama and Hillary.

"She converted me," she added. "She is specific, a problem-solver who has a grasp of the issues."

Voisin, who was the Democratic Party's candidate for the 2nd Congressional District race in 2006, said Obama talked change but didn't have enough specifics.

"It's not because she is a woman," Voisin said. "I really listened to them."

Talent resident Darby Stricker, a former member of the Talent City Council, has volunteered to work on Clinton's fundraiser Thursday.

"Everybody has an issue that drives them to support a candidate," Stricker said. "For me, it was the health-care issue. Obama has a great health-care plan but Hillary's is better. It's more comprehensive."

Stricker said she paid close attention when Clinton worked on a health-care package while her husband was president.

"She learned what didn't work," Stricker said. "I'm all the more confident she covered all the possible pitfalls. I think she has the best chance of getting a health-care plan through."

But fellow Talent area residents Dominick and LeeAnn DellaSala, both Democrats, aren't sure which one they will support.

"We're split — although I'm leaning toward Hillary," Dominick DellaSala said. "But we're going down to the last minute on this election.

"We have two very good candidates," he added. "I just wish they would stop slugging it out with one another."

Meanwhile, across the political aisle, local Republicans aren't planning anything in response to Clinton's visit.

"It's the Democrats' time in the sun," observed Bryan Platt, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party. "There is a time and season for everything. It's their time now."

Having said that, he noted that GOP presidential hopeful John McCain will no doubt campaign in Southern Oregon this year. McCain will do well in Oregon by attracting independents, he predicted.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

Volunteer Jane Hagan of Shady Cove works the phones at the campaign office for Sen. Hillary Clinton in Medford. Clinton supporters from throughout the country were calling the party faithful in Indiana and North Carolina, urging them to vote in those states’ primaries Tuesday. - Bob Pennell