Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton promised Arizonans Tuesday night that a government under her leadership would reach out to the middle class. “I know you’re ready for a change, aren’t you?” she asked a vocal and enthusiastic crowd at a high school gym in Laveen.
“I’m here to ask you for your support, because if you’re ready for change, I’m ready to lead.”
She spoke just hours after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, a surprise move that was made in response to fears of a possible recession. Despite the move, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at its lowest point in 15 months.
She told supporters in a packed gymnasium at Cesar Chavez High School that President Bush has led the country on a departure from its destiny during his term.
Clinton said she would restore the economy and create new jobs by investing in renewable energy sources, such as a bio-fuels and solar power.
“These are jobs that can’t be outsourced. These are jobs you have to do right here,” she said during a 27-minute speech.
She also pledged to offer health insurance equal to the package provided to the U.S. Congress.
The New York senator also promised to improve the country’s education system by offering pre-kindergarten for younger students and low-interest college loans.
Clinton was trying to solidify her support among Arizona Democrats before Feb. 5, the date of the state’s presidential preference election, which will help determine the Democratic nominee for the presidential election in November.
Arizona is one of 24 states in play on Super Duper Tuesday, the single most important day of the primary season.
She made a campaign appearance on just more than 24 hours notice, yet drew an estimated 10,000 people.
Clinton’s visit came on the same day a survey released by Arizona State University/KAET-TV (Channel 8) showed Clinton far ahead of the Democratic field in Arizona.
Survey director Bruce Merrill told the Tribune that Clinton is drawing strongly from three important subsets of voters in Arizona — long-term Democrats, Hispanics and women.
That combination will be difficult for Barack Obama or any other challenger to overcome.
An important factor working in Clinton’s favor is that the presidential preference election likely will attract large numbers of traditional Democratic voters, who tend to be older, have worked in the party and have lived in Arizona for years.
That’s exactly the type of voters who told the pollsters they plan to vote for Clinton, Merrill said.
“Obama’s supporters tend to be nontraditional, younger, alienated voters,” he said. Those types of voters don’t show up at the polls with as much consistency.
Merrill, a journalism professor at ASU, also noted that in response to an open-ended question asking voters why they support Clinton, a full 9 percent cited her gender. They simply felt it was time to put a woman in the Oval Office.
“Does that mean that Obama can’t win in Arizona? No. But it means with two weeks to go, he’s got a long way to go,” Merrill said.
Earlier in the day, Obama received a boost from a group of Hispanic political leaders who touted his economic strategy during a press conference at his state campaign headquarters in Phoenix. Among the speakers were state Reps. Steve Gallardo and David Lujon and former state Rep. John Laredo.
The Obama campaign also began broadcasting a second television commercial in the Phoenix market Tuesday.
The 30-second spot shows the Illinois senator discussing people living from “paycheck to paycheck.”
The ASU/KAET-TV survey showed that Obama’s top attributes among Arizona voters are his vision for change and ability to unify Americans, his likability, his intelligence, and his positions on the issues.