Clinton addresses sold-out Alumni Arena
Former Secretary of State sees Buffalo as a model for the country
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 21:10
Years ago, when Hillary Clinton was a New York Senator, she visited Buffalo frequently and stayed at the same hotel every time. One night, a housekeeper at the hotel gave her a snow globe with a buffalo in it. The woman delivered the gift with a message: “Mrs. Clinton, don’t forget Buffalo.”
Since then, Clinton has kept the snow globe in her office in the Senate, her office in the State Department and now in her home. She said she “firmly” believes in the future success of the Buffalo community.
On Wednesday night, Clinton addressed a packed Alumni Arena and took the opportunity to praise the direction of the City of Buffalo. She compared the growth of the city to what she sees as the future of the country. The event, which had a sold-out crowd of 6,500 people, was the second installment of this year’s Distinguished Speakers Series.
“Western New York [is] home to some of the hardest working, most generous and most innovative people you could meet anywhere,” she said.
In addition to the city, she praised UB specifically. She said the progress of the medical campus, the global recognition of UB’s research prowess and the school’s diversity are some of the aspects that separate the institution from others. She said this is “exactly what we need to be doing in Buffalo, in New York and in America.”
“This university community is at the heart of what makes Buffalo both good and great,” Clinton said. “It made me proud just talking about it and knowing that the students here are learning the skills that will shape and power our economy for years to come.”
Clinton said Buffalo was an essential focus of hers during her tenure as senator. She said she worked to further the development of the city’s waterfront, to make infrastructure changes to education – especially in the arts – and to improve and expand technology research in the city. Long-term investments like these are crucial in rebuilding the U.S. economy, according to Clinton.
She also applauded the university’s diversity. She is impressed with the international presence at UB – which includes 115 countries – and the 11 percent of students who study abroad, which is five times the national average, she said.
“The diverse community that is represented here brings both Buffalo to the world and the world Buffalo,” Clinton said.
Clinton – who is the most-traveled Secretary of State in U.S. history, having traveled over 1 million miles, to 112 countries – admires the city’s collaborative nature.
“Too often, we are not coming together to solve our problems and plan for the future the way people in Buffalo have been doing; Buffalo is a good model for the rest of this country,” she said.
As she continued that thought, a member of the audience began shouting, “Benghazi! Benghazi! You let them die!” – a reference to a terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four American ambassadors on Sept. 11, 2012. Many have alleged that Clinton is responsible for the deaths.
Though the shouting persisted for about a minute before police apprehended the heckler, Clinton continued without pause.
“We can’t move from crisis to crisis. We have to be willing to come together as citizens to focus on the kind of future we want, which doesn’t include yelling; it includes sitting down and listening,” Clinton affirmed as the crowd gave the former Secretary of State a standing ovation.
Clinton also addressed the current state of American politics.
She called the recent government shutdown a “self-inflicted wound.” She stressed the nation was built on collaboration and compromise, and she said those two ideals are essential to the country’s success – both socially and economically.
“The future belongs to those countries, communities and individuals who are looking forward over the horizon instead of backwards to the past,” Clinton said.
The night concluded with a question-and-answer session hosted by Vice President for Student Affairs Dennis Black. Audience members were able to send questions for Clinton through written-down messages, email, text messages or tweets during the event.
Black said the final inquiry of the evening was the most prevalent question Clinton gets asked recently. He also said, because it was such a common question, he wanted to ask it in a “different way.”
“Perhaps you could describe for us what the ideal candidate for the presidency would look like for 2016,” Black requested of Clinton.
The crowd roared in laughter and Clinton even chuckled, acknowledging that was a clever way of wording the familiar question.
“That is a new way of phrasing it; I have to give you a lot of credit,” she said. “I have to say, I am not as interested in what the candidate looks like as what the candidate stands for.”