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At Leisure World, Bill Clinton’s ‘Still Got It’

Former president stumps for wife at Maryland retirement enclave

Former President Bill Clinton, center, worked a friendly crowd at Leisure World. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)
Former President Bill Clinton, center, worked a friendly crowd at Leisure World. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

LEISURE WORLD, Md. — Long-time emcee Charlie Brotman says he’s already looking forward to working the inauguration of the 45th president. And he’s got his candidate picked out: Hillary Clinton.  

“I gotta stay alive. I can’t die. It’ll screw up everything!” Brotman, 87, said at a Hillary for America event here featuring former President Bill Clinton.  

“Yeah. I’m looking forward to it,” said Brotman, who is a retired Washington Senators announcer who hasn’t missed presenting the inaugural parade since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second one in 1957.  

But it wasn’t just retirees who turned out to see the 42nd president stump for his wife as she prepares for Maryland’s April 26 presidential primary.  

The state’s Democratic political establishment was on hand, including Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and Del. Marice Morales, 28, one of the sprawling retirement community’s representatives in the state General Assembly.  

“He was wonderful in making it about Hillary Clinton and, as a woman, a female politician, it’s really refreshing to see a man give credit to a woman, and obviously his dear wife,” Morales said. “But it was just all about her. And it was really refreshing to see, and that’s why we love the Clintons so much.”  

And then there were the young ones who couldn’t even attend. According to Barbara Tahler, her granddaughter was “texting all day” trying to score a ticket. “Can’t we come and see Bill, President Clinton?” Tahler recounted her text. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. “And we had to tell her no. Only Leisure World residents could come,” Tahler said.  

That wasn’t an iron-clad rule, per se. The press was there, of course, along with the Maryland officialdom. And students from nearby Sherwood High School were brought in to pepper the crowd with young faces.  

But the residents here are the draw for any political campaign. Leisure World in Montgomery County, a retirement age-restricted development and census-designated place, makes up a concentrated area of very loyal voters, approximately 8,700 of them, according to the 2010 Census. On Wednesday afternoon, about 300 showed up for the campaign event.  

The former president recounted highlights of his wife’s early career, including her decision to work for the Children’s Defense Fund. It’s a standard part of his stump speech on her behalf, as was the accompanying play list (Katy Perry’s “Roar” was in the house, for instance.) He put his own twist on some campaign issues, talking how big banks are failing to lend to small businesses.  

But it was nevertheless affecting for some of those gathered in the Leisure World Clubhouse.  

“I learned more about what she did when she was younger,” said resident Dawn Hubbell, who added that she voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. After the speech she was able to shake the prospective first gentleman’s hand, although she missed her chance to get a photo. Still, for Hubbell, “This was exciting. I’ve never seen him in person.”  

While the crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Hillary, Hubbell’s sentiment was a common one. The former president is still a draw.  

“As a millennial, I grew up in the 90s. He’s one of my personal heroes,” Morales said.  

“He’s still got it,” Brotman said, adding, “And if he were to run, he’d win. So, Hillary may be the second-best thing.”  

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