20 Years Later: Remembering Bill Clinton’s visit to Central Nebraska

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 9:03 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - On December 8, 2000, then-President Bill Clinton decided to make an unprecedented move in the final months of his second term. He decided to make his first-ever trip to Nebraska, and unlike presidents before him, he chose a rather peculiar route through the state.

Normally, campaigning or sitting presidents will visit Nebraska’s two most populous cities - Omaha or Lincoln. However, when Clinton’s team started to lay out the plans of his visit, it wasn’t long before the commander in chief said he wanted to see Nebraska in a different light. What that amounted to was not only a scheduled visit to the city of Kearney, but President Clinton also decided to give a speech on foreign policy on the campus of UNK.

Fast-forward 20 years, and several residents still remember the “off the beaten path” presidential visit. During his day in Kearney, President Clinton also spent time touring the newly constructed Kearney Archway, calling the elevated museum a part of history that everyone should see.

As his motorcade first rolled into town, it also made two stops along the route. First, the motorcade came to a halt at the intersection of Avenue N and 39th Street in east Kearney, where the president not only got out of his vehicle, but walked over and shook hands of local residents along the road. President Clinton also waved at a throng of Sunrise Middle School students who had crowded the intersection looking for their chance to experience history.

The motorcade made one other stop at Kearney’s other public middle school - Horizon Middle School. There, the president could be seen walking along a fence line covered in students where she shook the hands of several onlooking students. He then made his way to UNK to give his speech to a packed Health and Sports Center on the campus of UNK.

Stay tuned with Local4 this week, as we’re in the process of gathering firsthand accounts of the presidential visit and what it meant for the city of Kearney then and now.

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