Hillary woos Asheville NC
Clinton has a strong hold on WNC
ASHEVILLE – Sen. Hillary Clinton told a raucous and inspired Asheville crowd Thursday that as commander in chief she would end the war in Iraq while enacting universal health care and reviving a faltering economy.
Flanked by retired generals and with a backdrop reading “Solutions for a Strong Military,” the former first lady was repeatedly interrupted by standing ovations with thunderous applause inside the Asheville Civic Center’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
One such outburst came with her pledge to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 60 days of becoming president.
“We must restore our moral authority around the world. That begins by ending the war in Iraq,” she said. “I will begin withdrawing our troops, and I will tell the Iraqis they must step up.”
Some 2,500 people packed the auditorium while hundreds more couldn’t get in. Attendees waived signs reading, “Welcome Madam Future President,” “Asheville Loves Hillary” and “Rural Country = Clinton Country.”
Clinton was introduced by retired Gen. Hugh Shelton, a North Carolina native and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Shelton is among 19 former generals and admirals who signed an open letter in support of her candidacy.
“She understands the impact of endless commitments on our service personnel and their families,” he said. “She is the only candidate to offer a responsible plan for ending the war in Iraq.
“We need a president who will return America to its rightful place as the leader of all nations. We need to make her the next president of the United States.”
Nancy Perez, 64, pushed to the front of the Asheville Civic Center and waited two hours to try to shake Clinton’s hand.
“I did it. I shook hands with her. There were so many people trying to grab a handshake,” she said. “I’m voting for her. I’m totally in favor of everything she advocates. One of the best things is affordable health care for everyone.”
Coming off a 10-point win in the Pennsylvania primary over rival Barack Obama, Clinton faces a tougher challenge in North Carolina, where Obama holds a double-digit lead in most polls.
North Carolina holds its primary May 6 and is the largest remaining prize in terms of delegates. Clinton challenged her rival to a debate in the Tar Heel state. So far, he’s declined.
“It’s exciting to see North Carolina so involved in picking the next president,” she said. “I’m the underdog, but that’s OK because I think America’s worth fighting for.”
Clinton talked about the state of the nation’s economy and noted that her husband ended his presidency with a balanced budget and a surplus.
“We have to recognize the economy is not working for most Americans,” she said. “It’s working for the wealthy and the well-connected. We have seen incomes fall.
“That balanced budget and surplus are long gone. We are living on borrowed money and foreign oil.”
Clinton said she would end tax benefits for companies that move jobs out of the country and restore fairness to a tax code that she said taxes middle-class Americans at a higher rate than many who are wealthy.
Health care, education
The crowd cheered wildly when she said that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care.
“I’m the only candidate left in the race with a plan for universal health care,” she said.
Clinton also pledged to institute universal pre-kindergarten classes, end the federal No Child Left Behind education law, and expand grants and low-interest loans to attend college.
“We are slamming the door to college for too many middle-class families who can’t afford it,” she said.
Sandra Tolley, of Madison County, a teacher for 32 years, agreed with Clinton’s plan to do away with No Child Left Behind. It has forced students to become only test-takers, Tolley said.
“A new approach is needed in education,” she said. “We have not been getting students ready for the 21st century and being competitive.”
Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, “would continue George Bush’s failed policies in Iraq and the economy,” Clinton said. “I ask you to think of this election as a hiring decision. I ask you who would you hire to turn this economy around.”
The above is from the Asheville CITIZEN-TIMES.Hey,It's my home town and I had to post this!