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story.lead_photo.caption New President Bill Clinton celebrates with his wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea, during festivities for his inauguration in Arlington, Va., in January 1993.

The largest crowd in the history of the Clinton School of Public Service will gather in Little Rock's Statehouse Convention Center later this month to hear from former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"It's a sellout," Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford said Tuesday, less than a week after the event was announced.

So far, 3,200 people have been promised seats. Another 1,000 have been placed on a waiting list.

And the phone won't stop ringing.

Rutherford regrets it, but he's now the bearer of bad news: There's simply no more room.

It's a problem the school official had hoped to avoid.

"We presumed that a 3,200-seat hall would meet the demand, but clearly it has not," he said.

The school has held 1,200 programs since the first -- featuring former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a Republican from Kansas -- in 2004.

On three occasions, the audience topped 2,000. The biggest draw, until now, had been former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who attracted 2,669 people in 2013.

"No one has gone over 3,000," Rutherford said.

On Nov. 18, when the Clintons and political strategist James Carville take the stage to reminisce, Aldrin's attendance record will be shattered.

"The best bet for people at this stage of the game would be to watch it live-stream," Rutherford said, encouraging people to view the event at https://clintonschool.uasys.edu/uacslive/.

The avalanche of requests has kept staff members occupied.

Sorting through the messages and weeding out the duplicate requests has been a logistical challenge.

"Some people will have called and then they will have emailed and then they will have called so you have to go ... make sure they were not duplicates and so forth," Rutherford said. "I don't know exactly when we reached capacity. The phone's still ringing."

Rutherford, a longtime friend of the Clintons, said he can think of several reasons why this event is shattering previous attendance records.

"It is the 25th anniversary of President Clinton's 1992 election so that is generating a lot of interest in its own right," he said.

Hundreds of people from around the country are traveling to Arkansas next week to mark the occasion, and they want to witness the address, he said.

There's also interest in the 2016 campaign. "Secretary Clinton has not been here since the election. I think that's certainly generating interest," he added.

Carville, that colorful Cajun, is also a major draw. When he and his wife, Republican pundit Mary Matalin, spoke at the Clinton School in 2009, 2,149 people were on hand for the show.

The chance to see the Clintons and Carville on the same stage is too good to pass up for a lot of political junkies, Rutherford suggested.

"Frankly, people want to hear [the Clintons] and they want to hear James Carville ask them questions. I think that's generating interest," he said.

Since its inception, the speaker series has been a bonanza for the Clinton School and the rest of Little Rock, Rutherford said, providing students with access to some of the biggest names in politics, business, science and the arts.

It's also a "major recruiting asset for prospective students," he said via email.

While the Clinton School tickets are gone, the Political Animals Club of central Arkansas still has seats available for its event marking the milestone.

The organization will hear at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 17 from David Wilhelm, Clinton's 1992 campaign manager who went on to serve as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Shane Broadway, the group's new president, said the group was looking for a speaker who had seen the campaign up close.

"I emailed him. He immediately said 'yes,'" Broadway said.

Wilhelm is flying in that morning to attend the weekend's campaign reunion.

Broadway is hoping for clear skies and a favorable forecast from the meteorologists.

"If weather's bad that day that we may have to find someone to fill in," Broadway said.

So far, more than 100 people have reserved $26 seats for the luncheon, which is held at the Next Level Events @ The Historic Union Station, 1400 W. Markham St. in Little Rock.

Fewer than 100 spots remain, Broadway added. People can get on the list by emailing politicalanimalsclub@gmail.com.

The group sometimes marks major milestone anniversaries and few dates are bigger than Election Day 1992.

"We'd never had a president of the United States from Arkansas. We've only had one," Broadway said.

A Section on 11/08/2017

Print Headline: Clintons' LR talk to fill up venue's seats

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  • RBear
    November 8, 2017 at 6:22 a.m.

    Looking forward to this event and hearing some of the perspectives from both. Bill has already talked about the divisive nature of the nation. Yes, it comes from both sides but he always has a more in-depth perspective on things as he's traveled around the world.
    ...
    Expecting the usual hate spam from right wingers in here, but I'm going to ignore them on this thread. They're basically just noise and will probably parrot the same old rhetoric. They really don't have much depth when it comes to politics anyway.

  • drs01
    November 8, 2017 at 9:02 a.m.

    Outside the liberal fortress that is Pulaski County, the clintons couldn't get elected dog catcher. So all of the liberals will fill the seats to hear bill pontificate and hillary piss and moan about how she lost the election.
    What has changed since bill was elected is the clintons have been exposed as money grubbing, deceitful, dishonest power mongers. The perception that they were above all the politics has been destroyed. They are the problem, not the solution. They should go away...far away and take that glass mobile home on the river with them.

  • TimberTopper
    November 8, 2017 at 9:29 a.m.

    drs01, you and others like you just can't get over it. Jealousy and hate must be a bad pill to swallow. Just know this, it will be a great event without you and those like you. Just continue wallow in your cesspool of life.

  • drs01
    November 8, 2017 at 9:56 a.m.

    Timber - get over what? Hillary lost an election that was handed to her on a silver platter. I'm gleeful. You need to get over THAT. If you and your fellow yellow dog liberal democrats want to attend the wake for a politically dead family, I have some appropriate hymns you might want to use.

  • MaxCady
    November 8, 2017 at 10:06 a.m.

    Wonder if Slick Willie will take a jog over to Gennifer's house for old times sake?!

  • Jfish
    November 8, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

    I am pretty sure that most are coming to here him speak. I don't recall Romney or Kerry being in high demand a year after losing their presidential bids.

  • wildblueyonder
    November 8, 2017 at 4:25 p.m.

    Ah heck, I wanted to go.

  • RBear
    November 8, 2017 at 5:51 p.m.

    gohogs, I'll give you my ticket if' you'll be sure and cheer loudly FOR Clinton.

  • carpenterretired
    November 8, 2017 at 7:19 p.m.

    Oh my what would the boys in the turnip truck do without their Clinton boogie man (Obama boogie man seems to have faded into the mists of time) ,true they could watch Fox news and update their resentment .

  • wildblueyonder
    November 8, 2017 at 7:36 p.m.

    You know, back then Hillary wasn't too bad looking. But now?

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