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By BOB WHITE
RADCLIFF — With Chelsea’s Kentucky Derby and college visits this month, Bill’s unexpected March lunch at a Flemingsburg Dairy Queen and Hillary’s western Kentucky and Louisville stops last week, the Clinton family has been trotting around Kentucky like a thoroughbred among political machines.
Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s family has campaigned from the Mississippi River region flatlands of western Kentucky to the hills of eastern Kentucky and are not quite finished rallying support before Tuesday’s primary.
Today, the former president has stops planned in Louisville, Bardstown and Radcliff. On Friday, Clinton has a morning visit to the Daviess County Courthouse in Owensboro also planned.
All stops are being made with the primary in mind. Kentucky has come into the spotlight since Hillary Clinton’s win Tuesday in West Virginia over Democratic opponent Barack Obama. Former president Bill Clinton is becoming a major campaign tool for the former first lady’s bid for the Oval Office, according to campaign officials.
“Since we got the people in West Virginia moving, we’re just trying to figure out where to send him next,” said Nicole Candler, deputy communications director for the Kentucky for Hillary campaign office.
The former president’s visit to Hardin County is the first for a high-profile White House figure since Nov. 1, 2006, when first lady Laura Bush came to Radcliff to help the re-election bid of Congressman Ron Lewis.
Clinton’s first scheduled stop in Kentucky will be at 3:30 p.m. for an event at Louisville’s Butler High School on Crums Lane. He’s scheduled to be in Bardstown at Nelson County High School’s auditorium on U.S. 62 at 6 p.m. before heading to John Hardin High School’s gymnasium for the 7:30 p.m. stop.
Doors at John Hardin, located at 384 W.A. Jenkins Road, are scheduled to open at 6 p.m. Capacity in the gym is 1,921 people, according to Radcliff Fire Chief Rick Ledford. The school cafeteria will be made available for crowd overflow.
Radcliff city spokesman Bryce Shumate and school officials are asking that no one planning to attend the Clinton event arrive before 4 p.m. to allow after-school traffic to clear school grounds.
For Will Chadwick, a senior at John Hardin High School, Clinton’s visit is a real treat.
Two weeks ago, Chadwick joined a friend in volunteering to work with the Kentucky for Hillary campaign.
“I wasn’t doing anything major,” he said of the campaign work. “.. just working the phones and little stuff.”
Tonight, Chadwick’s role takes a giant leap. He gets to meet the former president and be the official greeter for John Hardin High School.
“This is really exciting,” Chadwick said. “I’m a fan.”
Chadwick said he would thank President Clinton for the “work he did in office” and congratulate him on his success.
“That probably won’t mean too much coming from a 17 year old, but that’s what I intend to do,” Chadwick said.
Tom Case, John Hardin High School’s band director, said students may play “The Star-Spangled Banner” during Clinton’s visit, but he wasn’t absolutely sure that would be incorporated into the visit.
Most school and city officials knew few details of the Clinton visit Wednesday afternoon. The reason for that lack of information has something to do with safety, according to local law enforcement officials.
Steve Pavey, Kentucky State Police Post 4 spokesman, said state troopers assisting in security for Clinton weren’t even made aware of many details Wednesday.
“Secret Service are in charge of everything,” Pavey said. “We’ll just be there in a support role.”
As Kentucky for Hillary campaign staff released updates to the former president’s planned stops in Kentucky, bits of pro-Clinton news were also being released.
The Kentucky for Hillary campaign office in Louisville announced Wednesday afternoon that four former Kentucky governors, Wendell Ford, Julian Carroll, John Y. Brown Jr. and Paul Patton, are endorsing Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential primary.
Former presidential hopeful John Edwards endorsed Obama on Wednesday.
Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750.