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Chelsea Clinton sticks to issues during Wilson College visit

Former first daughter outlines mother's stances on education, health care

Former first daughter outlines mother's stances on education, health care

April 16, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton said her stop Tuesday at Wilson College was the 109th campus she has visited on the campaign trail in support of her mother's bid for the White House.

The outcome of next Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary could mean the difference between U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton moving on to the next primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, or her opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, putting the nomination out of reach. With some celebrities in the entourage, Chelsea Clinton rolled onto campus in an RV for an outdoor rally that drew an audience of several hundred people.

The 28-year-old Clinton stuck to the issues, something that has been missing in recent campaign coverage focused on Obama's "bitter" remarks about rural Americans and her mother's recollections of a trip to Bosnia.

Clinton began with an issue close to many students' hearts - financing a college education.

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Her mother, Clinton said, would "get the federal government back into the business of direct student lending," so fewer students would have to rely on "predatory" lenders. Students who went into public service jobs could also credit their work as "payment-in-kind" on government student loans, she said.

Public education also would be available to children as young as 3 in a Clinton administration, Chelsea Clinton said.

Clinton said her mother would repeal tax breaks for oil companies and impose a windfall profits tax, the revenue from which would be used "to invest in helping lower the cost of what we already know works, like solar and wind energy."

"My mother is committed to the greening of the federal government from her first day in office," including making the government's 500,000 buildings more energy-efficient, Clinton said. Detroit automakers would get low-interest loans to develop fuel-efficient vehicles, she said.

"When health care didn't work out the first time, my mother didn't give up," she said of Hillary Clinton's thwarted health-care plan in the 1990s. Her mother has worked since to expand coverage for children and has plans for "truly universal health care," which the daughter described as a mixture of private plans, tax credits for health insurance and government coverage.

Many committed Clinton supporters, such as Franklin County Democratic committee member Clint Barkdoll, were in the crowd. The undecided also were there, along with the occasional Obama supporter and the merely curious.

"I'm starting to get to that point where I decide where I stand," said Jennifer Cook, an 18-year-old Wilson student from Waldorf, Md.

"I've actually never been to a political rally," said Perry Wood of Gettysburg, Pa., who teaches at Wilson. "Very few presidential campaigns come through this part of the country."

"This is a small town, and having a big political representative here is an event you shouldn't miss," said Jessica Owens, 23, of Chambersburg, a musician sporting an Obama button.

"Curiosity more than anything else," said Tom Newcomer, a Chambersburg councilman and Republican.

After Clinton's speech, students and supporters crowded around her for autographs and photos from her and actors Sean Astin ("The Lord of the Rings") and Erika Alexander ("Living Single").

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