Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dems come to Tennessee

From today's Tennessean...

Clinton to fight for South, says she's best qualified
She begins Tennessee campaign swing with rally at TSU
January 27, 2008

Despite a resounding defeat in South Carolina on Saturday night, Hillary Clinton is pushing ahead with her efforts to win over Southern voters — starting with a two-day swing through Tennessee.

"The future is now. This is about us, this is about the next generation," Clinton told a cheering crowd of about 2,000 during her town-hall rally at Tennessee State University in Nashville. "If you will stand with me and support me on Feb. 5, we will go ahead into the future."

The polls had barely closed in South Carolina when Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, boarded a plane for Nashville. This morning they were to head for Memphis, where they planned to attend services at Monumental Baptist Church.

"I can't imagine any place I'd rather be than right here in Nashville," she said. After promising not to assault the ears of Music City with a song of her own, Clinton congratulated fellow Democrat Barack Obama on his win and thanked South Carolina voters.

"I'm not asking people to support me because I'm a woman, I'm asking them to support me because I am the best-qualified person for the job," Clinton said during her half-hour stump speech, which was followed by the town-hall- style forum.

State is a challenge

Some of Clinton's biggest applause lines of the night came with her calls for an end to the war in Iraq and to tie the minimum wage to congressional pay raises and her promise to "get those two oil men out of the White House."

Tennessee, a state Clinton's husband carried twice, is one of four Southern states — along with Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas — that will be voting during the Super Tuesday primary Feb. 5.

And, as in much of the nation, Clinton has her work cut out for her in Tennessee.

Lillian Richmond, 51, came to the rally torn between Clinton and Obama. "We've got a chance to elect the first woman and the first black. We've got history looming over us, and I'm glad to be a part of it," said Richmond, who is looking forward to hearing from more candidates as the primary gets closer.

The remaining Democratic candidates have stepped up their presence in Tennessee. Both Clinton and Obama have opened campaign headquarters and run television ads in the state. John Edwards will hold a campaign rally in Nashville on Monday. Bill Clinton was in town last week, stumping for his wife at Fisk University.

Hillary Clinton found a warm reception at TSU. Supporters lined up for hours before the rally, filing patiently into the Kean gymnasium until the fire marshal was forced to turn the stragglers away as the auditorium reached capacity.

Vendors hawked campaign buttons — images of Wonder Woman and Rosie the Riveter, emblazoned with "Hillary!" The audience snapped them up, one for $5, three for $10.

"It's really inspiring," said Molly Reynolds, a college student from Nashville who already cast an early vote for Clinton. "For me, she's the one who really makes the biggest change, the biggest impact on the country."