Sunday, August 17, 2008

HILLARY SEEKS UNITY IN ESPANOLA

HILLARY IN ESPANOLA

A longer version of this will be published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
August 18, 2008


Sen. Hillary Clinton, in an effort to convince her supporters — including a large number of Hispanic voters — to get behind the campaign of presidential candidate Barack Obama, appeared today at a rally at an Española gymnasium before hundreds of cheering Democrats.

Clinton was in the state for two fundraisers hosted by Gov. Bill Richardson, one in Santa Fe, one in Albuquerque. Richardson, a former cabinet secretary for President Bill Clinton, ran against Hillary Clinton and Obama in the early primaries this year, dropping out after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“I know that many of you here today voted for me, you worked for me. And I will never forget what you did for me, ever,” Clinton told the crowd at the Northern New Mexico College gym. “But I want you to know if you voted for me you have far more in common with Sen. Obama than you do with Sen. McCain. ... I hope you all will join in this historic endeavor. Everyone who supported me, I hope you work as hard for Sen. Obama as you worked for me.”

After the speech, Clinton told reporters that the Obama campaign had asked her to speak in Española, which was her only public appearance on this New Mexico trip.

Although Obama won Santa Fe County in the February New Mexico Democratic Caucuses, Clinton, who won big Hispanic majorities in primaries around the country, beat Obama soundly by wide margins in Hispanic-heavy Northern New Mexico counties. Clinton barely edged Obama statewide in the New Mexico caucuses.

“I did very well here in the (caucuses),” she said. “I’m very grateful to the elected officials and the people of this country.”

Clinton said she has a long history with the Hispanic community, starting in 1972 when she registered voters in the Rio Grande Valley. She said she has a “real wealth of personal contacts” with Hispanics around the country and represents New York, “which has a large Latino population.”

The New Mexico visit also can be seen as some fence-mending between Clinton and Richardson, who embraced his former rival before she spoke. The governor angered many in the Clinton camp when he went on to endorse Obama.

But there was no sign of any animosity Sunday.

“This was a hard-fought campaign,” Clin ton said in her speech. “I was honored to run in a field that included Bill Richardson. And he added so much to the campaign. And now we are working together to try to elect Sen. Obama. And we cannot do that if we are not unified."

In addition to Richardson, many other heavyweights in the state Democratic Party attended Clinton’s appearance, including Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman and 3rd Congressional District candidate Ben Ray Luján, who introduced Clinton.

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