Florida voter Leslie May buys Hillary Clinton buttons and T-shirts from vendor Matthew Towsley outside a rally in Florida for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton headlined the Monday event.
Florida voter Leslie May buys Hillary Clinton buttons and T-shirts from vendor Matthew Towsley outside a rally in Florida for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton headlined the Monday event. Greg Allen/NPR
Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visited Florida on Monday to stump for her onetime rival, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
The New York senator's appearance drew a large crowd of her female supporters, and while she sang the praises of the Obama-Biden ticket at the rally, one thing she refused to do was take shots at Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Voter Lorraine Edwards supported Clinton in January in Florida's presidential primary and on Monday purchased two Clinton campaign buttons from a vendor outside the rally.
But now, she said, she's taking a look at the only woman who is on a presidential ticket. Edwards said her one misgiving is that she has not yet seen Palin speak off the cuff without a prepared speech.
"I admire her," Edwards said about Palin. "She seems very smart, very witty — you know, she seems to have a lot going for her."
Inside the exhibition hall at Osceola Heritage Park, it was a standing-room-only crowd of about 600 people, mostly women. There were chants of "Hillary! Hillary!" as Clinton took the stage.
Clinton said she was there to deliver a simple message: She asked all of her supporters to work as hard as they can to elect Obama president. Clinton said she planned to return to the Senate, where, she said, they need a president "who understands what it will take to save this country we love."
Clinton talked about the economy and the need for a new energy plan and health care reform and her wish to bring troops home from Iraq. These were all topics, she said, that she did not hear from speakers at the Republican National Convention.
"The Republicans are trying to convince us to give them four more years to clean up the mess they made," she said. "Choosing a Republican to clean up this mess is like asking an iceberg to save the Titanic. It is not going to work."
One thing that was not part of her speech today was any direct reference to Palin. New polls show that since the Republican National Convention, the presidential race has tightened, and many analysts credit Palin with making the difference.
Afterward, Clinton was asked about Palin's role in the race and whether the Alaska governor might attract some of the independents and women who voted for Clinton in the primary.
Clinton said that she could not speak for the 18 million people who voted for her but that she believed Obama ultimately will get the votes he needs. Clinton also refused to take issue with Palin's recent reference to her own candidacy and the "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" that Palin said Clinton originally made and that the Republican ticket was now prepared to "shatter."
"I think it's a historic achievement, and it is certainly worthy of congratulations to the Republicans," she said about Palin as the vice presidential pick. "Now, both our major parties have nominated a woman for vice president: the Democrats in 1984, the Republicans in 2008. But what this election is really about is what each ticket would do for the people of this country."
If Clinton seems inclined not to play the attack dog, one reason may be that she doesn't believe it is a tactic that is needed.
"I've been in lots of elections and know what it takes to win," she said. And in this election, she said, Obama is on the right side of history.