The economy needs
help and fast, Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Monday
in Knoxville, Iowa, claiming she has the experience to
do the job as president and saying the nation
can't afford to break in a newcomer.
In speech that
kicked off a two-day campaign swing through the first
caucus state, the New York senator painted a bleak
picture of a U.S. economy battered by home
foreclosures, rising oil prices, and lack of good jobs
for middle class-workers.
The former first
lady compared the situation to 1992, when her husband
ran against the first President Bush.
''There seems to
be a pattern here. It takes a Clinton to clean up after
a Bush,'' she said to applause.
mentioning names, she suggested Democratic rival Barack
Obama -- less than three years into his first term in
the Senate -- and other candidates lack the experience
necessary to address the nation's myriad fiscal
''There is one
job we can't afford on-the-job training for -- our next
president. That could be the costliest job training in
history,'' Clinton said. ''Every day spent learning
the ropes is another day of rising costs, mounting
deficits and growing anxiety for our families. And they
cannot afford to keep waiting.''
In Iowa, Obama
was asked about Clinton's comments and offered a sharp
understanding is she wasn't Treasury secretary in the
Clinton administration. I don't know exactly what
experience she's claiming,'' he said. ''Rather than
just assert experience, if she has specific
differences with me in regard to economic policy then let's
have that debate.''
in a community gymnasium, outlined steps she said she
would take to stem the housing crisis and help consumers in
cold-weather states pay to heat their homes. Among
other things, she said she would create a $1 billion
fund for states to help homeowners who risk
addressed global challenges to the economy, including funds
controlled by foreign governments to invest in U.S. stocks,
real estate, and businesses. She called for greater
transparency for such funds, which are currently not
required to disclose their assets or investment
directed much of her criticism at the Bush administration
and GOP presidential candidates, the subtext of
Clinton's speech was clear: She has more detailed
understanding of U.S. economic woes than her rivals.
She is seeking to
reinforce that message after several days in which both
Obama and John Edwards stepped up their criticism of her
past support for the North American Free Trade
Agreement and other pacts that labor leaders have said
were responsible for sending thousands of jobs out of
Clinton locked in a tight race with Obama and Edwards in
Iowa more than six weeks before the state holds its
caucuses January 3. A new Washington Post-ABC News
poll shows Obama with 30% support among likely
Democratic caucus-goers, Clinton with 26%, and Edwards with
22%. The poll showed that about half of Clinton
supporters said they had never attended a caucus; 43%
of Obama supporters said this would be their first caucus.
The finding is significant because voters considered the
most reliable caucus participants are those who have
Clinton, in her
speech, also tackled the issue of Social Security.
In recent weeks
Clinton and Obama have traded barbs over the retirement
program for seniors, which is forecast to run out of money
around 2041. Presently, the first $97,500 in
individual income is subject to the Social Security
tax -- a level Obama has said must be increased in order
to keep the program solvent.
refused to say what she would do as president to preserve
Social Security but has insisted such a tax increase would
place an undue burden on middle-class families.
that point Monday, even suggesting Social Security is not
under imminent threat.
''We don't need
more Republican scare tactics about a 'Social Security
crisis,''' Clinton said. ''And we don't need a
trillion-dollar tax increase that will hit families
already facing higher energy, health care, and college
costs. What we need is to focus on the real crises of
health care and Medicare, and on expanding opportunities for
poor, working, and middle-class families who are
her speech in Knoxville, the first of four stops in
rural communities her advisers believe are key to victory in
the January 3 caucuses.
In Tama an Air
Force veteran asked Clinton about her support for allowing
gays to serve openly in the military. How would privacy be
protected, he asked?
Clinton said she
believed all service members, including gays, must be
expected to observe the Uniform Code of Military Justice,
which determines appropriate behavior.
''I feel strongly
that if someone wants to serve their country, if
they're a patriot, if they'll comply with the code of
military justice and have appropriate behavior, they
should not be disqualified simply because they are
gay,'' she said. (Beth Fouhy, AP)