In some blogging circles, Sen. Hillary Clinton has not generated a lot of love, but that sentiment was all but nonexistent during a breakout town hall meeting during the YearlyKos convention on Saturday.
For an hour, Clinton talked about mass transit and health care. She spoke about education and overhauling No Child Left Behind, said Alberto Gonzales should be removed or resign and articulated how the blogosphere has transformed politics. She even quoted Barry Goldwater, who once said of gay soldiers, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”
And the only time many in the audience shouted out a loud boo was when Clinton asserted her preference was for the Cubs – not the Sox.Clinton was one of seven Democratic candidates who traveled to Chicago to talk to an estimated 1,500 bloggers and community activists gathering for the second annual conference organized by DailyKos, an online political community that draws 600,000 hits every day. In addition to a two-hour panel, the presidential candidates also broke out to hold individual town hall sessions.
“I only wish we had an active blogosphere 15 years ago,” said Clinton. Specifically, she spoke of the organized, and well-funded opposition to her efforts to reform health care in 1993, shortly after Bill Clinton was elected to his first term. With $300 million and the benefit of talk radio and corporate media, Clinton’s reforms ultimately went nowhere.
“What if we had the Internet back in 1993?” Clinton asked the crowd on Saturday. “We will get [health care reforms] done, when I’m president.”
One audience question came from Denver-based blogger Jeralyn Merritt, who asked Clinton her position on Bush’s push to expand the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and how Clinton’s attorney general would be different than Gonzales.
The second question was easy, Clinton said. Drawing laughter, and much applause, she said she believed it would be beneficial for the attorney general to “actually believe in the rule of law.” Gonzales, said, has behaved as though he were Bush’s private attorney, and not the attorney with oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice and should resign or be removed for his actions, including purging federal prosecutors who did not tow the Bush Administration line.
“It should be the rule of law, not the rule of Bush,” Clinton said.
Just two days after the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis, Clinton addressed the country’s infrastructure, and the current pricetag of a trillion dollars in unmet needs to repair the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, ports and water and wastewater systems.
“We are living off the investments of our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents,” she said.
In the past, Clinton’s position on the Iraq war – first voting for it and subsequently declining to say that vote was wrong – has angered many liberal bloggers. She has also been criticized for not initially supporting Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy for Democrats. But on Saturday, Clinton said she plans to have a strong presence in all 50 states and insisted, “I want to be the president for everybody.”
After her breakout session, Clinton joined other Democratic candidates, including John Edwards, Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel, for a full panel discussion.
Photo by Leslie Robinson
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org