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Speaking in Shepherdstown, Hillary Clinton vows to continue race

May 08, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

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SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Before a charged and sometimes raucous crowd of about 350 people at Shepherd University, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday worked to keep up the energy in her battle with Barack Obama, detailing her agenda for a better economy, renewable energy and better health care and education options.

"I'm so happy to be here in West Virginia and excited about the next week as we campaign here in this beautiful state about our country's future," Clinton told the Shepherd audience.

West Virgina's Democratic primary is Tuesday.

Clinton, with her daughter Chelsea at her side, spoke on the steps of McMurran Hall. Chelsea Clinton initially was scheduled to be the only one appearing for the Clinton campaign, but news organizations learned Wednesday morning that Hillary Clinton would join her daughter.

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Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother to the crowd.

"I am proud to be my mother's daughter," she said. "... I would be even more proud to call my mom my president because I know she would be the best president of my lifetime and the best president I could ever imagine for my children's lifetime."

With Obama's delegate advantage, some are pushing Clinton to withdraw from the race, but Clinton said during a press conference after her speech that she wasn't quitting.

"I'm staying in this race until there's a nominee," she said.

She said she would be the best candidate to run against Republican John McCain in the general election.

Clinton said the views of the three candidates are distinctly different and that donations to her campaign were coming in on an "hourly basis."

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that aides disclosed Clinton had loaned her campaign $6.4 million since mid-April, on top of a separate $5 million loan in February.

Clinton spoke on a number of issues, including the red tape military veterans can encounter.

"I want to be a commander in chief who gets rid of the red tape, who says if you served your country, we will serve you," she said.

Many spectators waved Clinton signs; others carried Obama signs.

Before Clinton appeared, two men had a loud, heated discussion over the merits of the two Democratic candidates, and the two traded barbs over such issues as Israel and nuclear arms.

The event was scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m., but did not get under way until about 12:30 p.m. Then both Clintons, joined by Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, walked from inside McMurran Hall to the podium.

Clinton capitalized on her win in the Indiana primary Tuesday, saying the people there understand she is the one who will deliver better jobs if elected president.

She emphasized the need for the country to explore renewable energy forms such as biofuels and hydrogen, and said the situation is likely to stay the same "until we get the two oil men out of the White House."

The remarks drew cheers from the crowd.

Clinton talked about the high gas prices that are busting the pocketbooks of Americans and said it is time to make oil companies pay gas taxes to help ease the burden. The nation's infrastructure is not getting the attention it should and 47 million people are without health insurance, Clinton said.

"I bet there are some of you without health insurance," Clinton said.

Further focusing on the college crowd, Clinton criticized institutions that are charging up to 30 percent interest rates for student loans and said she favors government loans at low interest rates for students, as well as increasing grants and college tax credits.

Clinton said America has been founded on the notion that people here can succeed if they work hard but "the economy's not working for you."

The lawn in front of McMurran Hall was packed with spectators, and German Street was filled with other onlookers. Some listened intently while others loudly talked among themselves along German Street, seemingly oblivious to Clinton's remarks.

Area police made up part of the security detail for Clinton's appearance.

Several young people sat on an overhang on a shop downtown while police could be heard saying they were keeping an eye on other people who were sitting high on a roof of a downtown building.

While some people held the traditional campaign signs, others made their own.

One spectator held a sign that read, "Devil '08. America deserves better than minions."

Several local dignitaries including Jefferson County Magistrate Gail Boober, Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine and Kellie Boles, Jefferson County's agriculture development officer, had seats next to the podium where Clinton spoke.

Tabb said after the event that he has been a vocal supporter of Clinton and has been impressed with her ever since meeting her two years ago.

Tabb, a Jefferson County farmer, said he is impressed with Clinton's knowledge of agricultural issues and said he met with Trevor Dean, Clinton's agriculture policy adviser, on Sunday and Monday.

Regarding the Clinton camp, Tabb said he has been "pleading with them for the last 10 days" to visit the Eastern Panhandle.

Tabb said there are a lot of undecided voters and he believes they will vote for Clinton once they hear more from her.

"She just has a wealth of knowledge on economic issues, and that's the driving force for me," Tabb said.

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