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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Bill Clinton jets into Putnam County Airport

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Former President Bill Clinton (right) confers with John Gregg, a 2012 Democrat candidate for Indiana governor, Friday afternoon before heading into a private reception at the Dixie Chopper Business Center at the Putnam County Airport.
Secret Service agents on the tarmac. Bomb-sniffing dogs on the runway. Even a candidate for Indiana governor in the meeting room.

Not to mention the 42nd president of the United States shaking hands with everyone from local airport personnel to Deputy Doug Nally to Red Hat ladies in the Final Approach Restaurant.

"Ah, just another day at the Putnam County Airport."

On his final approach to a waiting motorcade, former President Bill Clinton says his goodbyes to Putnam County Airport officials as well as staff and diners at the Final Approach Restaurant in the Dixie Chopper Business Center at the Putnam County Airport.
That's how airport operator and Dixie Chopper pilot John Layne termed Friday afternoon's whirlwind visit by President Bill Clinton, who arrived at the local airport shortly before 1 p.m. and departed for the DePauw University campus some 45 minutes later.

In between, Clinton held court in the hallway, posed for a couple of quick photo ops and squeezed in some 30 minutes of non-stop conversation with about 15 significant donors to the Indiana gubernatorial campaign of Democrat John Gregg.

"I'll tell you, he can talk on any topic," Gregg assured the Banner Graphic after the dust had settled on the biggest thing to hit the local airport since a 2006 visit by former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev.

"Just in here alone he talked about farming, Haiti, energy, the economy, crime, the jobs program," Gregg marveled. "It was a really nice event."

Gregg, who just last weekend made his 2012 candidacy for governor official, said he had met the former president during wife Hillary's 2008 campaign swing through Indiana.

"I did the intros for Mrs. Clinton, and I got to spend four full 12-14 hours days with him. I even did the intro for him when he spoke down at South Putnam."

Because of that kindness, the former president told Gregg if he ever needed anything, he would be happy to oblige.

Gregg took him up on the offer after he put together an exploratory committee for governor back in May.

"I got a handwritten note from him saying he'd like to help," Gregg said. "And when we found out he was coming here to Greencastle for this, we put this event together."

According to media reports, the 15 people in attendance paid a reported $5,000 each for the somewhat private audience with Clinton.

The grouped mingled with Gregg and Clinton in the meeting room at the front of the Dixie Chopper Business Center. Organizers asked that all the chairs be removed, ostensibly to give the donors all equal access to the gregarious former president.

But that wasn't the only unusual planning necessary at the airport.

Earlier in the week, a team of four Secret Service agents inspected the local airport and its facilities.

"Just so you know," airport official Doug Miller said, "the good news is we're bomb-free."

The Indiana State Police Bomb squad had to make certain of that, bringing in a bomb-sniffing dog to check out not only the buildings but also the planes and everything else at the local airport.

In all, a team of approximately 25 plain-clothes officers, uniformed police and Secret Service agents were on hand at the airport before the Clinton visit, Layne said.

That unit included Chief Deputy Nally in his Putnam County Sheriff's Department uniform along with Greencastle Assistant Chief Brian Hopkins suited up in plain clothes and looking for all the world like another Service Service officer.

Clinton flew in from Chicago on a Gulfstream 200 jet after an earlier appearance on Friday. His day actually started in New York.

Two agents, who accompany the former president everywhere, were aboard Clinton's chartered jet when it arrived, along with two pilots and a flight attendant.

As Clinton deplaned to a waiting mini-motorcade of four vehicles, led by a State Police cruiser, he was whisked away about 100 yards across the tarmac to the rear entrance of the Dixie Chopper Business Center.

When the reception was over, Clinton said his goodbyes and hustled off to DePauw to address a crowd of nearly 5,000.

Gregg said goodbye, too, heading to campus with his son for a meaty encounter of his own -- a GCB at Marvin's.

So in this case, you've got to say ... Bill Clinton delivers.

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I'm glad I wasn't at the airport for lunch! I'll be darned if Iwould surrender my personal protection firearm because he was coming in! I guess I would have went to the Fairway anyway!!

-- Posted by Ya THUNK on Mon, Nov 21, 2011, at 8:49 PM

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