Indiana Town Halls, Bill Clinton-Style

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Clinton has been all over Indiana on a campaign-stump speech marathon. He has been holding town hall-style rallies all over the "cross roads of America." But don't expect a truly democratic exchange of questions and answers in the sit-down settings.

President Clinton has a town hall style, all his own.

Hoosiers in the north, south, east and west have turned out at various middle schools to listen to President Clinton tell them why they should vote for Hillary. And despite the rain coming down sideways Saturday, I made it to two of his six separate appearances. He runs late, talks in detail -- in a charismatic way -- and doesn't answer any questions from the crowd.

Not a single one.

Yes, town hall meetings are usually held so voters can have their voices heard. "I wish it was a Town Hall," said Russell Metzger, who attended the meeting with his wife, Shannon Metzger. Both said they attended unaware it was a "town hall." Russell said he would have liked the chance to ask Clinton a question regarding the airline industry.

The last president to visit Lebanon, Ind., was Abe Lincoln in the 1860s; Lincoln made a brief stop and gave a speech from the back of the train that bore him to his inauguration.

"Clinton's done a good job thinking about small town America," said Shannon.

Maybe Clinton didn't want to get caught off guard with a question he would rather not answer, as happened to Senator McCain on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Iowa.

"I thought there would be chairs," said a local teacher upon exiting the school.

Nope. Not President Clinton style.

A Clinton staffer, who claimed she had to remain anonymous, said Clinton has been holding "rally style" town hall meetings for the last few weeks. She said he didn't take any questions at his earlier stops during the day.

Hillary made headlines in November 2007 because she planted a question in the audience of a town hall in Iowa. There was definitely no question planting today. And probably none tomorrow.

Clinton will hold more six of his "town hall" meetings Saturday around the state, where he will speak to Hoosiers about Hillary Clinton's plans on issues such as the economy, the so-called "gas tax holiday," the war in Iraq, health care and, of course, education.

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