Hillary Clinton in Knoxville

Hillary Clinton is due to appear in this gymnasium on Main Street in Knoxville, Iowa, in about half an hour.  The campaign has set up several hundred chairs which are slowly being filled with locals.  In trying to discuss with audience members whether they plan to support Hillary, one man disclosed he was just here to see a celebrity and had no plans to attend a Caucus on January 3rd.

Some young man is pestering a reporter on the media riser behind me.  "Are you going to vote for Hillary?" he asks the journalist.  "I don’t live in Iowa," the journalist replies.  "Are you an American?" the kid continues, sharing that he will be 18 by election day, 2008, and plans to "cast his first vote for Hillary."

This event is billed, so to speak, as focused on "rebuilding the raod to the middle class."  I know this because three huge banners with this phrase are hung in the gym. 

"Full house," says the young girl who just got the last seat in the row in front of the media riser.  There appears to be a contingent of local high schoolers and the five young women in front of me assure me they are "going to vote."

Linda Brobston of Knoxville is here and she plans to support Clinton in the Caucuses.  "I just thought this would be my only chance to see Hillary," Brobston said. "I think she would probably do something about health care which is a huge issue for me also I just like the way she’s conducted herself in the past.  I have a lot of respect for her," Brobston said.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"The way she handled herself as first lady and then as a senator," Brobston replied.  The Clinton folks shooed me out of the way as they were trying to seat people in Brobston’s section.

It’s now 10:45 a.m.  This is when the event was scheduled to start.  The campaign has brought more chairs into the room to fill up the back.  The three Knoxville folks who are sitting to my left are talking about gasoline prices. 

It is now nearly 11.  For some reason a local Hillary Clinton organizer has had the group of high school kids in the back corner of the gym stand up.  They’ve been standing for about 5 minutes.  "She’s a go-getter," one of the Knoxville locals says of the Clinton orgnizer. 

11:05 a.m.  Clinton enters the room.  She’s being introduced to the crowd by a local supporter, Jackie Duffy — a teacher at Knoxville high school. "We need everyone’s help to make history and elect Hillary as president," she said. 

Hillary asks the crowd to applaud Duffy, who is the choir teacher.  Clinton is recognizing Knoxville native Maria Nichols, an AFSCME lobbyist at the statehouse who brought her nieces and nephew to the event. 

"I’ll be all over the state today and tomorrow and then I think we’re going to give you a break for Thanksgiving," Clinton said, adding she and her daughter will "work together to create Thanksgiving Dinner."

She is now "sounding the alarm about our economy….the next president will inherit, unfortunately, a lot of problems.  This is kind of a familiar situation for me….It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush," she said.  The crowd applauds.

"The next president will not have a minute to waste," she adds. 

"….The economy is not working for middle class families," she continues a few minutes later.  "….Instead of positive policies aimed at making that happen, we’ve had the oppositie (with Bush)…a president with a tragic habit of ignoring problems until they become crises….the next president will have to turn around our nationa and our economy."

Clinton suggested others would have to spend time "learning the ropes" and the economy would worsen during that learning curve, she claimed.

"We outsourced our energy policy to Dick Cheney and the oil companies," Clinton said of the Bush response to the energy crisis post-9/11.  "…As a result, average families are spending roughly $2000 more a year on energy costs."  Clinton argued it’s a like a $2000 energy tax, more than three times what the typical family received under the Bush tax cuts.

"….American workers?  We’re working harder than ever," Clinton said a few moments later.  "…and the gap between the rich and everybody else has only gotten broader…The wealthiest one percent of Americans held 22 percent of America’s income…the highest level of income inequality since the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929."

Now, she’s arguing the US is vulnerable to foreign investors because of the national debt, which is $9.1 trillion.  "When President Bush became president, he inherited a balanced budget and a surplus," Clinon said. "…That forces us every day to borrow money from foreign countries like China."

"…The value of the dollar has been dropping….something el se that causes a lot of anxiety when you see what that might look like in years to come."

Now, she’s talking about derivatives.  "it isnt’a lways clear who owns them and how much they’re worth," Clinton said.  "…The ripples are being felt from Wall Sreet to Main Street….A lot of these new financial products are not transparent….We need a sensible middle ground between heavy-handed regulation and a hands-off approach."

It’s 11:25 a.m. and Clinton appears to be winding down with an attack on President Bush.  She’s offering a litancy in which she accuses Bush of siding with corporate America against the middle class.  "Now it’s no surprise tha tthe president continues to stand by his failed economic policies.  This is, after all, a man who considers stubborness a virtue," Clinton said.  She continues by accusing the Republican presidential candidates of promising "more of the same."

"…In short, they see eight years of Bush economics and say why not eight more?" ….You’ve got ’til January 20, 2009 and not one day more will we put up with thesefailed policies."

"…To them, it’s leave no Bush economic policy behind," Clinton adds of the GOP presidential candidates.  "…We’ve been here with a president who leaves the economic cupboard bare on Election Day….We’ll also have to end the war he started and address the heatlh care crisis…..So we don’t need more Republican scare tactics…I say we need a new direction.  We had an economic strategy that worked in the 1990s….We believe that investments in our people were investments in the economy."

Clinton describes her economic approach as "optimistic."

"We’re going to ask everybody to participate but I am not going to ask the middle class to do more than they’ve already done.  Staying afloat during the Bush administration has been a major accomplishment," Clinton adds.  She then launches into a recitation of her economic proposals. 

The biggest applause (with cheers) came when she pledged to end tax cuts for companies that ship jobs overseass.

"I will tie the minimum wage to congressional salaries so that congressmen can’t get a raise until working men and women do," she adds, to an even greater burst of applause and cheers from the crowd.

Now, she’s calling on Bush to convene a "crisis conference" to figure out a solution to the housing crisis and an increase in the subsidies to help low income Americans pay their utility bills this winter.

Makes a reference to living in the White House, and suggests Bush get out of the WH and visit Iowa and talk to those who’ve "literally being left out in he cold."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Hillary Clinton is clearly doing everything possible to win in Iowa.