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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC pitted against clock preparing for political rally

TCC+pitted+against+clock+preparing+for+political+rally

By Jamil Oakford/ editor-in-chief

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to a crowd of students, faculty, staff and local residents Feb. 29 on TR Campus. This event was set up by TCC in three days.Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
Former President Bill Clinton speaks to a crowd of students, faculty, staff and local residents Feb. 29 on TR Campus. This event was set up by TCC in three days.
Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

On Feb. 26, a Friday afternoon, TCC received a phone call. The college was given three days to prepare a political rally — not just any rally but one that would feature former President Bill Clinton.

With a small window of time and staff members from various departments, TCC was able to prepare a space that would be camera-ready for the media and secure enough to meet the needs of the Secret Service.

Democratic strategist for Hillary Clinton’s campaign Ed Emerson said they chose TCC to illustrate a point.

“Hillary Clinton has a great record on education, higher education especially,” he said. “We wanted to highlight her policy in contrast to Mr. Sanders’.”

TCC marketing and public relations executive director Suzanne Cottraux was contacted at 3:30 p.m. that Friday about a rally to take place at noon Monday.

“I was contacted by Margaret Lozier, who now works on the Hillary for President national advance team (out of Washington) but with whom I had worked many times on the Wendy Davis for Governor campaign,” Cottraux said.

Both Lozier and Cottraux worked together to find various locations at TCC for Davis to speak during her campaign back in the fall of 2014.

“By 4:30, they [a campaign team] had arrived at Trinity River Campus, and I quickly marshaled members of my team,” Cottraux said.

That day the group went to make sure the location they selected on TR Campus, the Action Suite, could hold 800-plus people and also consulted with TCC police.

“We also contacted TR police, who quickly contacted Chief [Shaun] Williams and Assistant Chief [Leigh] Dietrich to join us for a discussion about security needs,” she said.

Many people try to get good pictures and videos as former President Bill Clinton speaks on TR Campus Feb. 29. Students, staff, faculty and local residents filled the Action Suite to hear Clinton campaign for his wife.Giovanni Rebosio/The Collegian
Many people try to get good pictures and videos as former President Bill Clinton speaks on TR Campus Feb. 29. Students, staff, faculty and local residents filled the Action Suite to hear Clinton campaign for his wife.
Giovanni Rebosio/The Collegian

Meanwhile, the facilities crew rushed to move walls and prepare the Action Suite so that it could be seen as it would be the day of the event.

Once Acting Chancellor Angela Robinson was notified, she worked to get board approval. At 5:30 p.m., Robinson sent Cottraux the approval, and the team sent pictures of the Action Suite to the Clinton campaign headquarters.

“By 8:30 p.m. that night, we had the green light to proceed,” Cottraux said.

Her next step in the process involved working closely with the Secret Service.

“My job was to coordinate with the advance team, providing them [Secret Service] with vital information on any TCC individuals who would have any exposure or proximity to the President,” Cottraux said.

Doing a walk-through with Secret Service as well as the production company’s setup that Sunday afternoon were all part of the final touches before Monday’s event.

Both Cottraux and Robinson were pleased with the work that TCC’s staff put in to make the rally possible.

“Our entire staff did a tremendous job, on short notice and over the weekend, in preparing to host the event,” Robinson said.

Cottraux said the success and smoothness of the event was largely due to TCC staff. She found that everything went according to plan with the exception of a sound problem with the microphone.

“Events of this magnitude are extremely difficult to execute with weeks or months of planning,” she said. “Pulling something together like this in just three days, with no difficulties or mishaps other than the microphone, which was provided by the outside production company selected by the campaign, is nearly unheard of.”

Emerson was impressed by how smoothly the event went with the limited time TCC was given to prepare. He also said the former president liked it.

“He really enjoyed himself there in Texas,” Emerson said.

He pointed out the fast response of Cottraux and the TCC staff made the decision for the TR Campus location that much easier.

“We’re a moving train,” he said. “When we talk to you, we talk in shorthand and political language.”

Cottraux and TR student development vice president Adrian Rodriguez instantly understood everything the Clinton campaign wanted, Emerson said.

Robinson said this event was special for the college but especially its students.

“In particular, I think it was an opportunity for our students, particularly our many international students, to see and feel the American political process in a firsthand, personal way for perhaps the first time,” Robinson said.

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