Clinton makes campaign stop at Rhode Island College

Monday, February 25, 2008

“I’m asking you to consider hiring me for the hardest job in the world,” Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., told nearly 4,100 people at a rally at the Rhode Island College Recreation Center Sunday afternoon.

Clinton’s visit follows in the footsteps of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Michelle Obama, who have both visited Rhode Island in the last few weeks.

Rhode Island’s March 4 primary is especially important for Clinton, who has lost 11 straight primary contests to rival Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Obama also has more committed delegates nationwide. But a Feb. 9-10 poll conducted by Professor of Political Science Darrell West found Clinton leading Obama in Rhode Island, 36 to 28 percent.

In her address, Clinton emphasized that she has the “strength and experience” to lead the country forward.

“There is no contradiction between change and experience,” she said.

Without naming him, Clinton attacked Obama for having a naive vision of how to solve the country’s and the world’s problems.

“I could stand up here and say, ‘Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified,’ ” Clinton said. “The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect.”

“Maybe I’ve just lived a little long,” she said, prompting laughter and cheers from the crowd.

Clinton said the biggest difference between her and Obama is on the issue of universal health care.

Though Obama speaks about supporting universal health care, his plan does not require everyone to be covered by health insurance, Clinton said.

Clinton also criticized President Bush’s handling of both foreign and domestic issues during his tenure in office.

She said though the job of any president is challenging to begin with, it will be “especially tough following George Bush and Dick Cheney.”

“There’s so much we have to undo as well as do,” she said.

Clinton also said she would call for a gradual troop-withdrawal from Iraq within 60 days of taking office.

“I think we can begin the process of telling the Iraqis they have to take responsibility for their own country,” she said.

One supporter held a sign reading, “It takes a woman to stop a war.”

Clinton also promised to sign bills expanding children’s health insurance and promoting stem-cell research – both of which were vetoed by President Bush.

She said she will push for an economy that benefits the average American and not just “George Bush’s friends and allies, the wealthy and the well-connected.”

During the rally, one supporter close to the stage fainted, prompting Clinton to say, “I’m sure it was my heated rhetoric.”

Deedee Quick, an attendee from Portsmouth, said though she is undecided, she is leaning toward Clinton because she speaks on specific policy issues.

“I don’t think (Obama) should learn on the job, which is what is going to happen with him, I think,” Quick said.

Quick said she supports Clinton because of the senator’s gender.

“I wish I didn’t feel that way, but I really feel like it’s time for a woman to try this,” Quick said. “She’s a good candidate … and somebody has got to break the barrier. I think she is capable.”

Clinton’s experience working at the local, state and national level makes her “best prepared” to be president, said Craig Auster ’08, one of the co-leaders of Brown Students for Hillary.

Auster, who finds it “unfortunate” that most Brown students are rooting for Obama, said Clinton should be the “clear choice” for college students because she has a better plan to make college more affordable, to create jobs and to provide health care for “people our age.”