Arts Center joins long list of prez-hopefuls’ Tempe visits

Tempe Center for Arts at dusk in front of Tempe Town Lake
Photo courtesy of Okland construction and the TCA

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By Wrangler News Staff

Tempe Center for the Arts has joined the list of destinations picked by presidents and presidential candidates for whistle-stop visits during the past 100-plus years. This time it was Democrat Julian Castro, who was the youngest member of President Obama’s cabinet and who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017.

He also served as the mayor of his native San Antonio, Texas from 2009 until he joined Obama’s cabinet in 2014.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell made note of Castro’s visit, anticipating that others likely could drop by as the 2020 presidential campaign gets into high gear. “Tempe is an important destination for candidates from across the political spectrum,” said Mitchell.

“With the vibrancy of our community and the innovation of Arizona State University…I am hopeful that many candidates will come to our community to share their platforms and engage our residents about how they envision the future of our country.”

Here is a list of others who have spent a few hours in the city to promote their campaigns:

  • U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt spoke from the steps of ASU’s Old Main in 1911 while on route to dedicate Roosevelt Dam. He had left office two years earlier. Arizona was still a territory and would not become a state until the following year.
  • Then-actor Ronald Reagan visited ASU’s Memorial Union in 1957, a decade before he would become governor of California and nearly 25 years before he would become our country’s president.
  • U.S. Rep Gerald Ford debated Sen. Al Gore Sr. in 1968. Ford became vice president and then America’s president in 1974, after the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Richard Nixon.
  • Bill Clinton was the first president to host a rally in Tempe. On Oct. 31, 1996, he gave a presidential campaign speech on the lawn at ASU Gammage. Watch a video of the speech. He has returned several times to Tempe, including in 2012 to stump for Senate candidate Rich Carmona.
  • Sen. John McCain took a quick trip from his Phoenix home over to Tempe on Nov. 21, 1999, as part of his campaign for the 2000 presidential elections. He was back again April 28, 2007, for his 2008 run.
  • President George W. Bush and candidate John Kerry squared off at the 2004 presidential debate at ASU Gammage Auditorium on Oct. 13, 2004. Kerry hosted a rally at Tempe Beach Park after the debate. Then Mayor Neil Giuliano co-chaired the planning of the debate that attracted 2,500 journalists from around the world.
  • Sen. Barack Obama was here on Nov. 12, 2005, to stump for U.S. Senate candidate Jim Pederson. He came back as a presidential candidate on Oct. 19, 2007.
  • Former Vice President Al Gore visited Tempe on April 3, 2007, to discuss climate change, just months before winning the Nobel Prize for his work on the issue.
  • On April 12, 2012, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was the main event at a Republican rally featuring Sen. John McCain, Rep. Jeff Flake, who was running for U.S. Senate, and Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman.
  • More recently, former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hosted a rally at ASU that attracted more than 12,000 people on Nov. 2, 2016, less than a week before the election.



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