HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The lineup started at 6 a.m. Friday for fans jockeying to be among the first to own a Bill Clinton trading card.
When the doors to the convention center opened seven hours later, 1,200 people had gathered to watch the former president’s stepfather, Dick Kelley, accept the first baseball-style card.
“I want to tell ya, I’m one of the proudest guys that ever came down the pike,” Kelley said.
The cards depict Clinton in three poses, describe the former president’s ties to Hot Springs and include a sales pitch for the town.
“These will be collector’s items one of these days,” said Ed James, 76, while waiting in line.
Clinton said he’s delighted.
“Hot Springs is very special to me and I’m proud to support the city,” Clinton said through a spokesman. “I’ve always loved baseball cards, too.”
Steve Arrison, executive director of the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission, headed the plan to print the 300,000 Clinton cards. But even Arrison was shocked at how fast the $8,000 project snowballed through media interviews.
“The bottom line is 2.4 million people heard about this yesterday … We’ve already had over $7 million in free advertising,” he said.
Arrison is considering printing at least one more batch of cards. A self-addressed, stamped envelope is the only payment necessary to get the free cards by mail.
“People made fun of me for comparing Clinton’s popularity to people like Princess Di, but I think he’s definitely in that class,” Arrison said.
Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.