U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, of New York, is accusing President Bush of leaving Americans on their own economically.
Campaigning in New Hampshire yesterday, Clinton outlined the policies she would implement if elected president in a speech her campaign touted as a major address.
WBUR's Fred Thys reports.TEXT OF STORY
FRED THYS: Clinton came out of the weekend facing questions about her decision to vote against funding the troops in Iraq and the publication of two books about her, including one which reports that in 2002, she did not read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq before voting to authorize the war.
Yesterday, she chose to focus on the economy. Throughout this campaign, Clinton has tried to position herself as the Democrat who addresses bread-and-butter issues. For her speech yesterday, she chose the Manchester School of Technology, which is the regional career and technical high school.
Clinton bemoaned the shrinking of the American middle class, and compared current times with the turn of the last century. Invoking Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, she promised to bring about sweeping reforms on behalf of working-class and middle-class Americans.
HILLARY CLINTON: Back then, the American economy was dominated by large corporate monopolies. Corruption was far too common, good government far too rare. Women couldn't vote, and the minimum wage, well, workers' rights were completely unimagined. Back then America was a country filled with haves and have-nots, and not enough people in between. In response to these excesses, the Progressive movement was born.
Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Progressives busted trusts and fought for safe working conditions and fair wages.
THYS: Clinton borrowed a phrase from another Republican president, Ronald Reagan, one her husband also used.
CLINTON: A lot of people around the world are writing America off. They do believe our best days are behind us. I could not disagree more.
THYS: Several other presidential candidates, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, speak off the cuff easily. Clinton does not. She referred to her notes frequently yesterday. She proposed a series of measures she said would ensure economic fairness. She suggested taxing the overseas profits of U.S. corporations. She promised to balance the budget, in part by letting income tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire. She proposed making pre-kindergarten available to all children. She also proposed to expand a program started by her husband, to whom she referred by just his first name.
CLINTON: I believe that if we did give Medicare the chance to negotiate with drug companies, we would save 15 billion dollars a year. Why should the drug companies be immune from the process that goes on every day in America, where you bargain for the best you can get? And we need to give our government that opportunity to do so. When Bill was president, he gave it to the VA, which is one reason the VA has the lowest drug prices in America today.
THYS: Clinton did not take questions from the crowd in Manchester, but she did answer people's questions at the next campaign stop, making her way from table to table at a Nashua restaurant, Martha's Exchange, one of the first stops, she said, she and Bill Clinton made in 1991, when he started to run for the Presidency. At one of the tables, Claire Helfman, who was there with her five-year-old grandson, Hunter, explained that his parents each earn 40-thousand dollars a year, and won't be able to afford college for him.
CLINTON: We have to have a lot more help for middle-class and hard-working families to be able to afford to go to college. I've got a lot of different proposals to increase grants and scholarships, and to get the loan rates down. When I went to college, my parents could pay for tuition, room and board, but I had to pay for everything else, then I wanted to go to law school, and they said: "We didn't budget for that," but I could get a low-interest loan from the government, didn't have to worry about getting into huge debt. I had to pay it back, but it wasn't going to bankrupt me when I got out of school.
THYS: Helfman didn't find the answer very specific, but that was okay with her.
CLAIRE HELMAN: Well, I think her answer was about as general as you can get, however, I think that what she said was absolutely true, that we are not making it possible for the loans, and for the kids to go to college, that want to go to school.
THYS: The most recent University of New Hampshire poll, released last month, shows Clinton holding her lead in New Hampshire. She campaigned there yesterday amid questions about whether she would drop of out another early state. Last week, a memo from one of Clinton's top campaign aides surfaced encouraging her to "pull completely out of Iowa", in order to save money for February 5th next year, when California and a slew of other big states hold their primaries. Clinton said last week she has decided she is competing in Iowa. Yesterday, she didn't take questions from the press about that or any other issue.
This program aired on May 30, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.