I’m writing this blog long after the fact but will try to be as accurate as possible. I wanted to reflect in words about the day I had the opportunity to shake the hands of, at the time, the future leaders of the free world! One sunny afternoon in Sunnyvale, California I shook the hands of U.S. presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore. The Silicon Valley community of Sunnyvale was just named one of America’s most innovative cities, and the two men made it one of their first campaign stops in California.
Closely following the election, I heard that the two Democratic candidates for President and Vice President had a planned appearance at the Sunnyvale Civic Center. I took my chances, drove over, and quickly joined the crowd outside waiting for the two men to emerge from a meeting with the town’s leaders. Once that happened, it wasn’t long before candidate Bill Clinton was working the crowd. I thought he would never reach where I was standing, but in case he did I asked the person next to me to take a photo if/when I shook Clinton’s hand. It was a chaotic scene, and this was before cameras became popular on cell phones. Still, it was exciting as Clinton approached where I was standing and firmly reached out to shake my hand.
Wow! As Clinton passed by, I immediately engaged the person standing next to me about that photo I requested, but it was not to be. Darn, I really wanted that photo with Clinton. After what seemed like several minutes, I turned around and saw Al Gore literally standing still directly in front of me waiting for a hand shake. There was a gap in the line and no one was in that spot. I’ll never forget it as I didn’t expect to see Gore so quickly or at all after just shaking Clinton’s hand. Both men were very gracious, friendly, and seemed to be energized by the great reception they were receiving.
Soon, the two men would govern the United States as President and Vice President of the U.S. In fact, for the next eight years, they would lead the nation. This Silicon Valley campaign stop would prove important as Clinton and Gore needed to win California if they were to upset the incumbent 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush. Years later, in the presidential election of 2000, Al Gore would lose to the elder Bush’s son, George W. Bush, despite winning the popular vote.