Clinton Supporters, Undecided Democrats Rally in Beaufort - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/28/07

Clinton Supporters, Undecided Democrats Rally in Beaufort

She's on a mission to become the first woman president of the United States, on a campaign course that's taking her right through the Low Country. Saturday afternoon, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) took the stage at the University of South Carolina Beaufort's Performing Arts Center.

She told the packed theater about her goals as president, including providing affordable healthcare, reducing dependence on foreign oil, offering more opportunities for the middle class, and improving education. For details on her visit, see: Clinton Asks Voters to Renew America on Beaufort Visit.

She did address the fact she's the only woman running, but says it's not about her gender. "I'm not running because I'm a woman," she told the crowd. "I'm running because I think I'm the best qualified and experienced person to do the job, to hit the ground running."

Sen. Clinton also said there's no military solution in Iraq. She's promised to end the war if she's elected. While she praised the military for getting rid of Saddam Hussein and paving the way for free elections in Iraq, she said they don't belong in the middle of Iraq's sectarian civil war.

Today's forum was put on by the local Democratic party. Among those who came out, of course, were lots of Clinton supporters. But others are still undecided and wanted to hear the senator speak to help them make up their minds.

WTOC was there to see what everyone was saying. First, everybody was just excited that Beaufort's on the presidential campaign map. And one consistent message among the crowds of people: it's up to the voters to use their power to make changes.

Crowds gathered early, waiting for one of the 2008 presidential race's biggest candidates to visit this small Low Country city.

"I just think it's really exciting," said undecided voter Kathleen Lake. "I mean this is Beaufort. It's not New York City. It's not Cleveland. So the fact that people think it's important to come here means that a lot of things are changing."

As things change, attendees want to stay informed. "They're not necessarily Hillary supporters," Democratic organizer Anne Errington told us. "They're here to hear the candidates and make a decision."

Finally, Clinton arrived, to thunderous applause. Her message today was about renewing America. "I know that we can do better," she said. "But we have to appoint people who are qualified for the positions we ask them to hold."

Sen. Clinton's visit this afternoon was brief, with some of these supporters waiting as long as six hours to hear her speak. Everyone we talked with today liked what she had to say.

Connie Voight of Hilton Head Island liked "all the things about healthcare, getting the troops home, getting our country back to not being being afraid to do things."

While some have already made their decision--"I thank God for Hillary Clinton," supporter Phyllis Sullivan said--the activists who organized today's forum say that every vote, for whichever candidate, counts.

"It's terribly important," said Errington. "We have a lot of problems in our world, and unless we pay attention, this country is going down, and we have to keep it up. And therefore it's up to us."

"I'm saying to everybody in the Low Country and in the United States, get out and vote," added Sullivan.

And you'll get your chance to vote early in South Carolina. The state's holding next year's presidential primary on January 29. 

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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