The notoriously tardy president rolled up in a white mini-van and took the stage at the 17th Street Farmer's Market before 10 a.m. wearing a tan suit and touting the credentials of his close friend, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe.
In his role as Democratic party chair, McAuliffe raised millions of dollars for Bill Clinton, which the president acknowledged meant he would probably be there anyway -- albeit 20 minutes or so later than expected -- but reassured the crowd his concern went beyond personal loyalty.
Clinton told the now-mandatory story of McAuliffe starting his first business sealing driveways at age 14 using a red wagon to pull equipment from job to job until he got a truck -- before he was old enough to drive.
“But he was an entrepreneur, so what the heck?” asked Clinton. He shared another McAuliffe memory about an occasion when Enron lobbyist tried to meet with him in the party headquarters ostensibly to quiet his criticism of the energy bill the Bush administration was drafting. Clinton said McAuliffe kicked them out of the building.
“That's bipartisanship at its best,” he said.
McAuliffe took the stage and gave a stump speech focusing on jobs, jobs, jobs and how it fit in to his energy policy proposal of beefing up the state's green sector.
Campaign staff said that the crowd was as large as 750 people, but the prediction may have been optimistic. The full attendance, including press, only covered about a quarter of the market floor.
“I would have liked to have seen a better turnout,” Jonsette Lewis, a human resources consultant says. “I know a lot of people that wanted to come but had to be at work.”