Monday, August 18, 2008
Hillary Clinton Returns to N.M. on Obama's Behalf
By Colleen Heild
Journal Staff Writer
ESPAÑOLA — Never mind that the event in the gymnasium of Northern New Mexico College was billed as a change rally for Sen. Barack Obama. It was Hillary Clinton's show.
The Obama rival-turned-cheerleader looked ever the candidate Sunday as she shook hands, waved and thanked her supporters for braving snowy weather in February to vote for her in New Mexico's Democratic presidential caucus, in which she narrowly bested Obama.
"I will never forget what you did for me. If you voted for me, you have much more in common with Senator Obama than you do with Senator McCain," Clinton told the crowd estimated at 800 people. "To everyone who supported me, I hope you work as hard for Senator Obama as you worked for me."
Wearing black slacks, a vivid turquoise tunic and matching earrings, Clinton took the stage with New Mexico's top Democratic leaders, including Gov. Bill Richardson, whom she described as her "longtime friend."
Richardson was to host two fundraisers to help pay off Clinton's estimated $10 million campaign debt, and publicly the two showed no trace of the animus that developed after Richardson endorsed Obama earlier in the summer.
During her brief speech, Clinton spent more time putting down the Republicans than she did talking up the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who arrives in New Mexico today for a town hall meeting in Albuquerque.
But Clinton said she and Obama are on the same page.
"I've campaigned with him for more than 16 months, I stood on the stage with him for 22 debates, but who's counting. I've seen his passion and his determination and his grit."
She said Richardson added "so much to the campaign" before dropping his own Democratic presidential bid in January.
"And now we are working together to try to elect Senator Obama, and we cannot do that if we are not unified."
She added: "We are not going to rest until we take back the White House. When those moving trucks leave the White House (in January), the world will breathe a big sigh of relief."
Clinton said she considers Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona "a friend and a colleague" and "deeply admires" his service to the country.
"But, in the end, President Bush and John McCain are two sides of the same coin and it doesn't amount to a whole lot of change," she said.
The New York senator spent time speaking on issues close to her heart, such as health care reform and "equal pay for equal work" for women.
"Today, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. It's not just a women's issue. This is a family issue and this is a justice issue," she said.
A Democratic win in November isn't "inevitable," she said, but added, "if we stand together and if we fight and work hard, we can take our community back."
She said she especially appreciated the "extraordinary support" she received from Hispanic voters in New Mexico, but added that Hispanics want what every voter wants — a good life without high prices for gasoline and food or the worry that their homes could fall into foreclosure.
New Mexico "is a great state with a lot of hardworking people. ... And you don't ask for a lot, but the very least you should have is a competent government and a caring president."
New Mexico will once again be a key state in presidential election, Clinton said, and she predicted, "You will be getting a lot of attention."
In the stands, Mary Louise Martinez of Tierra Amarilla had already heeded Clinton's call for unity.
Martinez said she was originally a Clinton supporter but will vote for Obama.
"I think initially it's a letdown (for Clinton not to be the nominee), but you've got to look at what the alternative is now and there's no choice. Obama's a better man."
Eloy Garcia of Chamita said he came to the event mostly to see Clinton.
"I hope something will happen at the (Democratic) convention. I'm still hoping she'll come out ahead."
Caroline Elliot of Española said she backs Obama but was partial to Clinton in the beginning. Adds Elliot: "She's intelligent, articulate and she put up with Bill."
All Out of Obama Tickets