Bill Clinton, Deval Patrick Campaign For Niki Tsongas at Rally in Lowell

Over 2,000 people filled the Lowell Memorial Auditorium last Sunday to hear former President Bill Clinton and Governor Deval Patrick rally for Niki Tsongas, the Democratic nominee for the Massachusetts Fifth District congressional seat. Tsongas’s former opponents from the Democratic primary opened the evening by endorsing her run for Congress. Gov. Patrick encouraged the audience to support the Tsongas campaign before introducing the evening’s keynote speakers, Tsongas and Clinton. Tsongas began her remarks with a joke alluding to her late husband Senator Paul Tsongas’s campaign in the presidential race against Clinton in 1992. “Fifteen years ago, I might have had a very different vision for a night like this—that I would be the former First Lady, perhaps introducing Bill Clinton as he ran for Congress,” Tsongas said. Tsongas continued her speech, focusing on the national debt, the war in Iraq, healthcare and education. Clinton commended Tsongas for her work as Dean of External affairs at Middlesex Community College. He said, “Community college is a metaphor for how America ought to work.” Clinton rationalized this statement with four comparisons. He said that American government should model after community colleges, and be open to anybody who wants to be involved and have a constantly changing “curriculum” or plan of ideas. Clinton also said that community college is “relentlessly in the solutions business” and is about bringing people together. Clinton’s presence at the rally surprised some. Sen. Paul Tsongas and Clinton were adversaries in the 1992 race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sen. Tsongas defeated Clinton in the crucial New Hampshire primary before eventually falling behind in the race. Referring to the current Republican government, Clinton said that America is “in the midst of an experiment in extremism [and that] in the 2006 election, America started thinking again.” Clinton concluded his speech by saying, “[Tsongas] is a good woman. She is a qualified woman.” Tsongas’s daughter Ashley Tsongas ’92 graduated from Andover during the heat of the presidential primary. Tsongas’ other daughter, Katina, is very active in the Barack Obama campaign in New Hampshire. Marty Meehan, the former Fifth District congressman, resigned at the beginning of March after being named Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. The special election to fill Meehan’s spot will take place on October 16. His wife, Ellen Murphy Meehan, is the Tsongas Campaign Chair and also spoke on Sunday evening. If elected, Tsongas would be the first female Massachusetts Congresswoman since 1982. Republican Jim Ogonowski, a retired air force lieutenant colonel, and independent candidate Patrick Murphy ’02, a PA alumnus, are challenging Tsongas for the seat.