Clinton Asks Voters to Renew America on Beaufort Visit - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Clinton Asks Voters to Renew America on Beaufort Visit

Clinton on stage moments after her arrival. Clinton on stage moments after her arrival.
The auditorium of the University of South Carolina Beaufort's Performing Arts Center. The auditorium of the University of South Carolina Beaufort's Performing Arts Center.
The crowd stands as Battery Creek High School students sing the national anthem. The crowd stands as Battery Creek High School students sing the national anthem.

Sen. Clinton arrived at about 2:20pm to thunderous applause as the band played New York, New York. She received a long standing ovation before being introduced officially, and another upon being named.

Her initial remarks were about having a conversation with the public on what changes they'd like to see. She also apologized to those supporters who's been waiting since 8am to see her, which earned her forgiving laughter.

She spoke of her early career and law school, and even family vacations the Clintons took to Hilton Head Island.

She spoke of progress made over the years in gender and racial equality.

She referred to America "a land of big goals, of a vision, of what we can do together, to really realize our founding principles." She challenged attendees to renew commitment to overcoming challenges, citing the words of John F. Kennedy promising to put a man on the moon and bring him home safely, and to an expanding civil rights movement of Lyndon Johnson's day.

"I think we can set big goals again," she said. "Everything we can look back on and take pride in was prelude."

She warned achieving big goals requires courage and hard work, saying, "There is no guarantee that America will remain great."

She then outlined several specific goals for her:

1. Quality, affordable healthcare for every single American
2. Energy independence and security. (She got another standing ovation by suggesting tax subsidies taken from oil companies would fund research for alternative energy technology.)
3. Continue to raise the incomes and the opportunities for America's middle class, which she says will come from strong fiscal responsibility on the government's part
4. Improving education, especially at the early stages, saying our children are the best investment we can make

As she talked about what she feels America needs to do at home, she told the crowd that we still have a lot of work to do around the world. She said there's "no military solution" in Iraq and promised to end the war if elected. While she praised our military for its accomplishment in deposing Saddam Hussein and providing an environment in Iraq for free elections, she said they "don't belong in the middle of [the Iraqis'] sectarian civil war."

She said, "It's important to know that we're going to get out of Iraq more carefully and smartly than we got into Iraq."

She also promised continuing healthcare for veterans.

"I am prepared to lead this country if you give me the chance to do that," she said.

She thanked the crowd and left the podium at about 3:10pm.

The local Democratic party presented Sen. Clinton with a Gullah-language bible before she left the stage.

South Carolina is particularly important to presidential candidates since it's a state with a very early primary election, January 29, 2008.

As of 2:10pm, the speakers have wrapped up and an anxious crowd is waiting. A band plays jazz music. We're told Sen. Clinton will arrive shortly.

  The program has begun at 1:15pm, with Beaufort County Democratic Party chair Beverly Dore welcoming the crowd and speaking on the importance of the upcoming presidential election.

"We are living in a time of turmoil," she said, claiming a lack of leadership in the present administration.

She announced that Sen. Clinton was only the first candidate to accept the local party's invitation to speak, promising further forums to come.

"The importance of electing a Democrat cannot be overemphasized," she said to general applause. She told the assembly hers would be the party to change the status quo.

"The restless waters must flow into oceans of hope and prosperity," she said.

The program continued with a silent moment of prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the national anthem by students from Battery Creek High School.

South Carolina Rep. Kenneth Hodges (D-Dist. 121) then took the podium, saying the Republican party has lost touch with America. He introduced South Carolina House minority leader Rep. Harry Ott (D-Dist. 93).

"I am tired of being the minority leader," Ott said, earning laughter from the crowd and telling them he expected them to change that.

He encouraged the audience to not only vote, but make sure others get to the polls as well. There are two types of people, he said: "Those people who participated and those who sat on the sofa and watched other people participate." He said everyone in attendance needs to get that second kind of people off the couch.

He went on to attack the Republican party, saying "They have put corporate profits first and the people of the State of South Carolina and this country last."

Other speakers taking the stage included local party representatives urging Democrats to volunteer during local campaigns, and addressing national policy issues such as the war in Iraq and healthcare. 

Hundreds of people are packing the auditorium of the University of South Carolina Beaufort's Performing Arts Center this Saturday afternoon in anticipation of US Sen. Hillary Clinton's arrival.

In fact, crowds had already gathered when WTOC arrived at 11am. Signs proclaim the scene "Clinton Country" and ask voters to pick Hillary in '08.

The New York Democrat is among the front runners for the 2008 Democratic presidential bid, and people in the Low Country tell WTOC her visit to this community shines a light on the changing nature of national politics. Supporters are calling her visit crucial in a race with so many candidates and the vast media outlets available to them today.

Clinton is expected to arrive about 2pm and speak briefly. She's not expected to have time for audience or media questions before heading to another stop in North Carolina.

WTOC has a crew on the scene and will have the story tonight on THE News at 6.

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