We SUPPORT and ENDORSE JOHN EDWARDS, HILLARY CLINTON , Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, John Kerry , Wesley Clark and their SUPPORTERS AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES




Monday, January 29, 2007

Clinton Off to Granite State After a Boost From Iowans

Clinton Off to Granite State After a Boost From Iowans
By JILL GARDINERStaff Reporter of the SunJanuary 29, 2007
DAVENPORT, Iowa — Senator Clinton arrived in Iowa fourth in the presidential polls here, behind John Edwards, Senator Obama, and Governor Vilsack, but after a weekend of campaigning, she appears to be winning over some more backers in the home of an important early caucus.
Mrs. Clinton's next road trip, to New Hampshire, is already set for next weekend.
With her campaign now running on all cylinders, Mrs. Clinton told Democrats here yesterday that President Bush's plan to leave the Iraq war to his successor to resolve is the "height of irresponsibility."
"This was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan and incompetently executed strategy, and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office," Mrs. Clinton told a crowd of about 500 Iowans at a fairgrounds hall in this city of nearly 100,000.
The Associated Press quoted a White House spokesman as saying Mrs. Clinton's proposal to cap troop levels was "the height of irresponsibility." Her vote for the Iraq war is the one issue that dogged her most during a two-day barnstorm through this early nominating state over the weekend. Yesterday, she was pressed on that and on her failed attempt to overhaul the health care system in the 1990s. Nonetheless, Mrs. Clinton has generally wowed the Democrats who have come out to see her here in Iowa as she and dozens of her staff members have crisscrossed the state's Democratic strongholds. At times yesterday she had the audience roaring with laughter. When asked about how she would deal with "evil" men like Osama bin Laden, Mrs. Clinton paraphrased the question for the audience by saying: "What in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?"
After the event many in the room wondered who, exactly, she was talking about. When asked about it later, Mrs. Clinton referenced Osama bin Laden and cited the "mistakes and bad decisions" of the Washington leadership — before blurting out a less scripted answer. "I thought I was funny," she said. "You guys keep telling me, lighten up, be funny. Now I get a little funny and now I'm getting psycho-analyzed!"
At each of the stops she made over the weekend, Mrs. Clinton billed herself as a Midwesterner from a middle class background who was most qualified to right the wrongs of poor Republican leadership.
Though she has been polling ahead of Mr. Obama and her other 2008 Democratic challengers nationally, she has been trailing in Iowa polls. There was no doubt that she changed some minds this weekend.
She also played up the idea of a woman being elected president, saying several times, "We'll never know until we try."
"I'm old enough to remember women were told we couldn't do a lot of things," she said yesterday. "I'm old enough to have played half court basketball, because we couldn't run the whole length of the court, remember that?"
She also noted that her "participation in the Iowa caucus is the only thing I'll ever do in politics that Bill has not done." In 1992 Mr. Clinton skipped the Iowa caucuses because Senator Harkin of Iowa was running for president.
At a doughnut store down the street from the fairgrounds, Mary Robinson was beaming with excitement about Mrs. Clinton and said she received a recorded message on her answering machine inviting her to come listen.
"If a woman can run a household, darn right she can run the country," Ms. Robinson said. Others, however, said they were not making up their minds until later in the process — a fact that will force candidates to pay more attention to them.
A former factory worker at Proctor & Gamble, David Bradley, predicted that, like last time, "there are going to be lot of us that aren't going to make up our minds until a few days before."
Hundreds of reporters trailed Mrs. Clinton during the visit as if she were already the Democratic nominee. She did, however, squeeze in some private meetings with Iowans at diners, union halls, and at residents' homes as she tried to execute her promise to "have a conversation" with voters. Political analysts say Mrs. Clinton will have to find a way to meet with people in a more intimate way to get her message to resonate. The chairman of the politics and international relations department at Drake University in Des Moines, Arthur Sanders, said it could be problematic for her if the entourage of television cameras remains so large. But, he said, "After a while, Hillary Clinton going to Iowa will be an old story."
Mr. Sanders predicted that her mere presence here in Iowa would help improve her poll numbers and may actually make a second-place showing in Iowa seem respectable in next January's caucuses.
If anything is going to be a thorn in her side with Democrats here it will be her vote in favor of the Iraq war in 2002, especially with former Senator Edwards, another 2008 Democratic contender, already calling his vote a mistake.
When pressed to justify her vote for the war yesterday and to provide a solution for getting out of Iraq, Mrs. Clinton shifted the onus to the president, saying he misused his power. She also said a bipartisan coalition was needed in order to get through to the White House. "If we don't have Republicans standing with us, the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue is not going to feel any pressure," she said. She defended the nonbinding resolutions against the war that is being considered by the full Senate.
"I've heard some people out here saying, ‘Well what good is that? That is nonbinding. Well, then why is the White House working overtime trying to stop it?"
Meanwhile, former Governor Vilsack of Iowa told The New York Sun he is against "capping" the number of troops in Iraq, as Mrs. Clinton has proposed.
During an interview with the Sun at the Des Moines airport Friday night, Mr. Vilsack, who is also competing for the Democratic nomination, said capping the troops "simply continues to expose our young men and women to significant danger."
"I do agree with her that Afghanistan is a place where we should have a greater commitment, but I just think that staying the course in Iraq is not the right decision," said Mr. Vilsack, who was returning from a multi-city campaign swing. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, he was traveling with only one aide and had no reporters following him.
Most of the questions residents asked this weekend allowed Mrs. Clinton to articulate her visions on education, energy efficiency, and other policy areas. She was, however, challenged yesterday on her failed attempt to overhaul health care in the 1990s and asked how she would actually implement universal health care, an issue she has been touting as one of her principal goals.
She explained three options and took a show of hands to find out which plans the audience favored, but then noted she was "not ready to be specific," explaining, "We're going to build a consensus first." The chairwoman of the Scott County Democratic Party, Susan Frembgen, said the trip was definitely a worthwhile one for Mrs. Clinton. "People like to see their candidates up close and personal," she said.
Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to be in San Antonio today for the opening of a new medical facility for injured veterans. Senator McCain will also attend.
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