By Sara Alterman
SALEM, N.H., 10/17/07 — On this night, standing before an enormous
banner that screamed “Helping Parents Balance Work and Family,” Sen.
Hillary Clinton had come to speak of her Democratic version of family
values.
She stood, without notes, on a makeshift stage in the high school
gymnasium, and told several hundred residents that it was time to
revive the middle class, time to provide good health care to those who
don’t have it, time to make sure everyone can afford to go to college.
As the audience looked on from rows of plastic chairs and campaign
staff flitted about with crisp efficiency, Clinton appealed to this
small town’s sense of community by drawing parallels between the
structure of the American family and the structure of the government.
“When I was growing up, I felt like Americans were on a journey
together,” she said, “We set goals in our family. I was raised to
believe that you set goals and you work to achieve them.”
Those goals, she added, have been lacking these past six years. She
promised to restore them.
Tying family values to the war in Iraq, she spoke emphatically about
her plan to bring the war to an end, emphasizing what she and her
fellow presidential hopefuls stated during the Sept. 26 Democratic
debate at Dartmouth College—that there is no military solution in Iraq
and it is time to start the process of bringing American troops home.
Americans, she emphasized, are disenchanted with President Bush and
his administration, and that the ready for a change.
“The era of cowboy diplomacy is over,” she said to cheers from the
crowd, “I want to restore America’s leadership around the world.”
It was a sentiment that continues to resonate with voters, who,
according to recent polls, have thrust Clinton nearly 30 percentage
points ahead of the anyone else in the Democratic field of
contenders..
Clinton reminded her audience that she put herself through law school
and understands the financial pressures that new graduates face as
they struggle to pay off student loans.
In a statement that was perhaps the most rousing moment of the
evening, she told her audience that it was the middle class that
served as the country’s bedrock.
“America can’t be any stronger than the middle class is,” she said,
“The middle class is the strongest economic engine in this country.
But the Bush administration has created a (government) that is of the
few, by the few, for the few.”
And then the senator from New York patiently fielded questions on
subjects ranging from Social Security to immigration, prescription
drugs to Iran. Only after the last member of the crowd had pressed
past her to shake hands, did Clinton — who took no questions from the
press — end her night.