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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “4,000 turn out for rally”

    4,000 turn out for rally

    Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out in a strategic campaign push before tomorrow’s Arizona Democratic primary in front of more than 4,000 spectators in Bear Down Gym on Saturday night.

    The New York senator, accompanied by her daughter, Chelsea, spoke about her plans for the troubled economy, global warming, health care and higher education, not shying away from criticizing the current administration or taking hits at her opponents.

    “”Here’s an old-fashioned idea – let’s appoint qualified people again,”” she said. “”We have to elect a president to repair the damage of the previous eight years and get us optimistic about the future.””

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona invited all the presidential candidates to campus last August, but only Clinton opted to attend. Her visit was paid for by her campaign.

    Clinton supporters, foes and those still on the sidelines waited for several hours before hearing the senator speak – two hours after her scheduled 4 p.m. appearance.

    The two-mile line snaking around the UA Main Library and McKale Center didn’t discourage students from waiting, as many cracked jokes, enjoyed the warm weather or took the opportunity to flaunt their own political opinions.

    Members of the UA chapter of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, which aims to help students become involved in the political process by bringing issues like student debt to the attention of lawmakers, carried signs that said, “”What’s your plan for college affordability?””

    “”We want to make sure Hillary listens to what young people want – to afford college and graduate with less debt,”” said Kristi Van De Wyngaerde, a pre-nursing freshman and member of the group.

    Clinton spoke about reforming higher education to fit the demands of the 21st century.

    “”Let’s make college affordable again. Let’s give $3,500 in tax credits for families with children in college, and let’s expand the Pell Grant,”” she said.

    She also spoke about ending the “”abusive, predatory spending practices”” of banks who charge high interest rate on student loans, and forgiving debt for students who work in public-service jobs after graduation.

    Clinton spoke about bettering the economy and the need to balance the budget and surpluses. Her solution to unemployment garnered some of the loudest applause of the night when she said, “”Regardless of what George Bush may think, global warming is real,”” before going on to explain how green technology will revolutionize the job industry.

    “”We need to invest in green, clean, affordable energy,”” she said. “”You’ve heard of blue-collar jobs, you’ve heard of white-collar jobs. I want to begin training people for ‘green-collar’ jobs.””

    Clinton repeatedly referred to her competitors by name, saying, “”(Barack) Obama doesn’t have a universal plan,”” and “”(John) McCain has said it wouldn’t bother him to leave troops in Iraq for 100 years.””

    Clinton outlined her plans for universal health care, which she originally drafted in 1993.

    Her plan would open up the congressional healthcare package to average citizens and require every uninsured American to purchase insurance, providing a subsidy for low-income citizens.

    “”If you have a health care plan and you like it, you don’t have to change it,”” she said. “”But if you’re uninsured, we’ll open up the congressional health plan.””

    Clinton reminded the crowd of her experience in the White House alongside former president and husband Bill, saying, “”I hear a lot of people say they are going to take on the special interests, but it was awful lonely back in 1993 and ’94.””

    On Iraq, Clinton said she would begin bringing troops back within 60 days of taking office, allowing Iraqis to take control of their government.

    “”Iraqis will only get serious when they see a president committed to withdrawing,”” she said. “”And when we bring the troops home, let’s take care of them.””

    Clinton suggested giving war veterans severance packages and treating them for post-war trauma afflictions like brain injuries.

    At one point during her speech, the crowd erupted in an applause not over what anything the senator said about her campaign, but over her demand to distribute water to several spectators, after a few passed out.

    University of Arizona Police Department responded to five medical calls about several people who fainted inside the gymnasium due to high temperatures, said UAPD Cmdr. Kevin Haywood.

    The incident didn’t disrupt Clinton from outlining her plans to change America, and she acknowledged that while she had several supporters in Arizona, there were also some faces in the crowd who were likely still undecided and may be considering voting for her rival Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

    “”Whichever one is nominated, Barack or me, we will change history,”” she said. “”But who is most likely to change our country? Who can on day one begin to turn the economy around, end the war in Iraq and restore a belief in America?””

    Cinton ended her speech about 40 minutes after her arrival with the phrase, “”Let us change America together.””

    Several students waited around to see if they could speak with the senator or get her autograph.

    “”I thought she was impressive,”” said Jerron Rice, a creative writing sophomore. “”I’m undecided, but after that speech, she gets a plus.””

    Daleesia Underwood, a junior majoring in family studies and human development, said it appeared Clinton was on campus “”to make change.””

    “”Tuition is ridiculously going up, so I’m glad she talked about that,”” Underwood said.

    Saraha Dahaybi, a physiology senior, was one of about a dozen students standing on the UA Mall across from Bear Down protesting Isreal’s Gaza blockade.

    “”We just want to make sure that (Clinton) sees the rights of Palestinians are important to student voters,”” Dahaybi said. “”We are concerned about all the money (the U.S.) government gives Israel, and we are concerned about what Isreal is doing with it.””

    Other students were downright opposed to Clinton’s visit.

    “”I think it would’ve been a more valuable investment to bring ‘Cirque de Soleil’ to the UA than Hillary Clinton,”” said Michael Flores, a pre-business sophomore.

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