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Monday, February 18, 2008

 1:11 PM 

Clinton stresses health care and economy at St. Norbert appearance

DE PERE -- Hillary Clinton pushed her health care and economy plans this morning at a town hall style speech at St. Norbert College.

While urging supporters to go vote in tomorrow's primaries, Clinton took time to answer questions at the end of her speech.

Instead of attacking Barack Obama or John McCain, Clinton spent much of her time attacking current President Bush over her key issues.

"We will begin to restore confidence and competence in our government," Clinton said. "Under this president ... we've got cronyism, corruption and incompetence."

Clinton's speech, which was delayed from Sunday due to the weather, tied together the importance of secondary education with the economy, and outlined her "economic blueprint," which was distributed to audience members.

"There is no reason that America can't be producing jobs again," Clinton said.

Before anyone got on stage, chants could be heard from audience members, "Hillary for president! Obama for vice president!"

Clinton did not mention Obama or McCain by name, but told the approximately 600 people in attendance she has "a great deal of respect for her opponent" in the primary race. Later in the speech, Clinton said she was a "proven commodity," and that "There is a big difference between speeches and solutions."

Clinton addressed a variety of other issues, including a plan to promote alternative energy, beginning to pull troops out of Iraq within 60 days of her inauguration, re-writing the tax code, ending No Child Left Behind and rebuilding the United States' image aboard. During the question session, audience members wanted to know more about Clinton's stance on tax cuts, helping teachers, gender disparities and labor issues.

While pointing out her solutions for America, Clinton continued to take shots at the current administration over issues such as energy, Iraq, and other foreign affairs.
"I think the world will breathe a big sigh of relief when President Bush and Dick Cheney leave office," Clinton said. "The era of cowboy diplomacy is over."

Lt. Gov. Barbra Lawton and U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, both spoke before Clinton took the podium. Kagen talked about the need for and benefits of Clinton's health care plan, while Lawton focused more on education. Also in attendance were Mayor Jim Schmitt of Green Bay, Mayor Mike Walsh of De Pere, state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and state Rep. James Soletski, D-Green Bay.

-- By Tim Maylander

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