LE MARS, Iowa -- Traveling around Iowa by helicopter today on the first day of a five-day tour, Hillary Clinton returned again and again to a new theme, one that offers a contrast with her leading rivals without mentioning them directly.
Some people demand change (John Edwards?), and some people hope for change (Barack Obama?), but she has 35 years of experience of actually working for change -- a message Clinton repeated at all three of her stops today.
“I think change requires persistence, perseverance and yes, some perspiration,” she said. “I’ve never known any other way.”
Clinton also offered an especially forceful response to a woman in Le Mars who raised the issue of her electability. Marlene Fitzpatrick said she’s received numerous calls from pollsters claiming that all of the top Republicans would beat the New York Senator.
Fitzpatrick, a retired schoolteacher, asked, “How do you answer that?”
Clinton explained that such calls are called push polls, and designed not to assess opinion but to influence it. She said she’s ahead in “big states we have to carry,” like California and Florida. Then she went on to cite her support from veteran Democrats in red or purple states, like Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. She said she has been endorsed by nine fellow senators, while her rivals who are current or former senators boast no more than one endorsement each from a Senate colleague.
“Why would experienced and knowledgeable Democrats support me if they thought that was true?” she said. “They are not on a suicide mission. They want to win, and so do I.”
Clinton gave a big smile as she finished, as if she were exhilarated by her own answer. The crowd cheered.
Fitzpatrick said she will likely choose Clinton as her backup candidate, if her first choice, Bill Richardson, does not win enough votes to earn a delegate in her precinct. She was outraged by the pollsters’ questions. Yet she is still quite worried about Clinton’s electability.
“There’s a lot of polarization around Hillary,” she said. “A lot of my friends think she’s a witch.”
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