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February 12, 2008

WI presidential primary recalls another Clinton campaign stop in Wisconsin 16 years ago

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

With Wisconsin’s Feb. 19 presidential primary fast approaching, candidates and their surrogates are popping up in Wisconsin. Chelsea Clinton was in Madison Monday, and Barack Obama drew 17,000+ in Madison Tuesday. Bill Clinton is also expected to visit Milwaukee, Madison and La Crosse on Thursday to stump for Hillary. With presidential politics in the news in the state in 2008, it’s a good time to look back at the year 1992, when it was Bill Clinton running.

In December of 1990, Jacki Rickert’s physician, the late Dr. William Wright of Mondovi, gained approval from federal authorities for her to join the Compassionate IND program, a small federal program that still supplies medical marijuana to a handful of seriously ill Americans. However, when a large amount of applications from AIDS patients were received, George Bush I closed the program to new participants in 1992, leaving Jacki caught in the middle, approved but not supplied.

In late 1992, Jacki and her daughter were leaving no stone unturned in their quest for her medicine. One day, she received about 30 minutes notice that Bill Clinton, on a bus tour of western Wisconsin with Hillary and Al and Tipper Gore, would be stopping in nearby Osseo.

When Jacki’s home was raided in 2000, she relayed to me an account of that encounter, reposted below from the IMMLY website:

Not too long before the 1992 presidential election, Jacki met with candidate Bill Clinton at a Clinton-Gore campaign stop in Osseo, Wisconsin. After discussing her situation and being handed a packet of approval documents, Clinton told Jacki he would reopen the program, saying "that's just terrible and if elected I will make it right". He assured her he'd read the documents "just as soon as I'm on that bus". Jacki responded "Sir, please don't say it if you don't mean it, I don't think I can stand it to have another bubble broken. I don't think I could take any more". His promise was apparently promptly forgotten.

From Raid at Jacki’s http://www.immly.org/raid_at_jackis.htm

I talked to Jacki before I posted this tonight, and she shared some more memories of that day. Clinton was brought a hamburger and a baseball cap from a local burger joint (Heckel's Family Restaurant), quickly downing the burger; he then doffed their cap. When Clinton first approached Jacki in her wheelchair in front of the yellow tape, he leaned in and shook her hand, and she asked for his autograph. He told her, “I feel your pain,” seeming very sincere in the moment.

Jacki’s daughter timed the encounter; Clinton and Jacki spoke for 8 minutes. There was a light rain, and her daughter used a “Time for them to Go” sign with the image of a clock set to 4:20 they had made and brought along, to shield her. Al Gore and Clinton signed Jacki’s art book, with Gore drawling that he “liked her artwork” as the rain caused ink from drawings in her book to run down the page.

Meanwhile, a window curtain parted on the campaign bus, revealing Tipper Gore snapping pictures. (If you see this Tipper, Jacki would appreciate copies, as she didn’t have time to bring a camera that day.)

Jacki also recalls when her daughter handed the packet of documentation to Clinton; a Secret Service agent suddenly grabbed it, startling the three of them. The agent then inspected it and handed it back to Clinton who placed it inside his overcoat, telling them, “As soon as I get on that bus, I’m going to read this.” He also told them to keep in touch with the campaign. After speaking with Jacki, Clinton, unaware, leaned on Jacki’s shoulder (which dislocates easily due to her medical condition) while reaching into the crowd to shake hands, causing her to wince with pain.

After shaking hands with others nearby, then turning to board the bus as the rain picked up, he again told Jacki and her daughter, “As soon as I get on that bus, I’m going to read this.”

Jacki still wonders if he read it once on the bus, and why he told her he would help her and then turned his back. Why did he break the promise he made to Jacki that day?

I always appreciated the way former NORML director Richard Cowan described the encounter in a post on MarijuanaNews.com back in 2000:

By the way, when he was running for President in 1992, Bill Clinton promised Rickert that if he was elected he would see to it that she got medical marijuana. If he had won, things would surely be different." -- Richard Cowan, MarijuanaNews.com, March 15, 2000.

Posted by Gary at February 12, 2008 11:08 PM

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