Stepping out of a black RV with the words “Stronger Together” on the side, former U.S. President Bill Clinton waved to surprised Gainesville residents Saturday afternoon.
They cheered as he began shaking their hands outside of the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office, an early voting polling location. Clinton made two stops in Gainesville as part of a bus tour to rally votes in Florida for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, three days before Election Day and on the last day of early voting in Alachua County.
More than 100 people crowded around the former U.S. president, who took pictures and selfies with people.
Colin Swenson, 45, had just cast his vote at the office when he heard a commotion.
When he saw it was Clinton, the Gainesville resident made his way through the crowd and shook his hand.
“‘Thank you so much for everything that you did for the country, and I hope it continues under Hillary,’” Swenson remembered telling him.
Swenson, who cast his first vote for Clinton back in the 1992 presidential election, stressed the importance of the current election, with the possibility of either Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton gaining the power to nominate U.S. Supreme Court justices.
“I’m just really hoping for the best outcome on Tuesday, and for me, the best outcome is no Trump,” he said.
Fans of the former president walked away exclaiming their excitement of meeting him. Chants of “Hillary, Hillary” broke out as Clinton encouraged people to vote for his wife.
When Brad James, a UF political science senior, saw Clinton was in town on Twitter, he headed to North Main Street for a chance to meet him.
“I love Bill Clinton,” the 21-year-old said. “He’s a very charismatic guy — very cool leader.”
After meeting Clinton for the first time in St. Augustine where he gave a speech, James said he was hoping to get a picture with him.
After the office, Clinton stopped by a gathering of canvassers and Clinton supporters outside of Caribbean Queen, located on the intersection of Northwest 5th Avenue and Northwest 6th street.
When Ed and Sarjit Kellerman heard the former president was stopping by, they changed their Saturday plans.
“We dropped everything we were going to do, and we ran out here,” Sarjit Kellerman, 64, said as she carried a life-sized cardboard cut out of Clinton playing the saxophone.
Ed Kellerman handed Clinton a frame filled with about eight buttons, one of which had a photo Ed Kellerman took of Clinton when he visited UF in 1992.
“He thought he wanted me to get him to sign it,” he said, “but I told him ‘no, that’s for you.’”
The 64-year-old UF master lecturer also got Clinton to sign his shirt.
Sarjit Kellerman said her husband has collected political memorabilia over the years, mostly from presidential elections. In their house, a cutout of President Barack Obama and hundreds of buttons, stickers and banners from different campaign rallies abound.
She added that being able to vote is what makes the U.S. democratic system work.
“This political process is very sincere,” she said. “We have a voice; we have a right.”
For her, Hillary Clinton is the best and most qualified presidential nominee. She said she believes it’s time the U.S. elected a woman as president and catch up to other countries that have women leaders.
“We think Hillary has what it takes,” she said. “She can do it.”
Former President Bill Clinton visited Gainesville Saturday as part of a bus tour to rally votes in Florida for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, three days before Election Day and on the last day of early voting in Alachua County.