Clinton and Bush in Chicago for Private Conference

The privacy is a BIO rule

By Andrew Greiner
|  Tuesday, May 4, 2010  |  Updated 11:00 AM CDT
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Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton

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Two of the most prominent men in America are in Chicago today giving speeches on the importance of biotechnology.

But good luck finding out what Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have to say during dual keynote speech at the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s annual meeting at the McCormick center. The entire meeting is closed to the public and media. 

The former presidents are private citizens, after all, and are entitled to privacy.  But inquiring minds want to know just what the odd-couple will be saying on the topic. Will they spill industry secrets? Spar on stage? Make partisan jokes?

Officials said the decision is about fairness to the people who paid to see the presidents.

"While we have opened the keynotes to a broader range of attendees on occasion during previous conventions, it has generally been BIO's policy to only allow full registrants to attend the keynote events," BIO spokesman Jeff Joseph said to the Chicago Tribune.

"Since there are thousands of individuals who participate in the conference not as full registrants -- for example, exhibit staff, presenters and media -- we cannot make exceptions in a fair and equitable manner."

After first organizers planned the same treatment for Al Gore’s Wednesday keynote but BIO agreed Tuesday to make the former VP available for five minutes, the Tribune reports.

Bush and Clinton’s speech is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, and Amgen Inc. sponsors Gore’s speech. Speaker fees haven’t been disclosed. 

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