Clinton stumps for Hillary in Jefferson stop

  STEUBENVILLE – Declaring that his wife can make good things happen for America again, former President Bill Clinton gave a 50-minute campaign speech for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid to about 800 people in the Steubenville High School gymnasium Sunday afternoon.

  Clinton made the local stop as part of a four-city swing through Ohio that started Sunday morning in Toledo, moved through Canton and here before heading to Marietta to wrap up the day.

  “One candidate says he’s fresh and new, the other says she is tested, tried and true,” Clinton said, referring to Sen. Barack Obama, who is locked in the race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. The Ohio primary is March 4, when Texas also will hold its Democratic primary.

  Clinton, introduced by Gov. Ted Strickland and standing in front of a banner declaring “Solutions for America, Hillary Clinton,” recalled Ohio was the state that gave him the winning number of delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1992, and that Ohio was the state that put him over the top in the 1992 general election.

  “I love Ohio. I love you a lot,” Clinton said. “The fate of the nomination lies in the hands of Texas and Ohio.”

   He was speaking to many supporters, as indicated by a comment prior to the rally from Loretta Bowman of Bellaire.

   “We have the choice between a smooth talking man or a straight talking woman,” Bowman said. “Hillary is a straight talker. There are so many details about Obama that we arenát hearing. Hillary has offered a strong program for the future of America. Obama is a nice man but Hillary is my hero.”

  Nancy Dieterle of Rhinestone, Pa., said, “Hillary has a personal program and we haven’t seen a lot of information on what Obama will do if he is elected. Obama wants change and so do I. I want to change Senator Clinton to President Clinton.”

  Security was light at the rally, with a bomb-sniffing dog used to make a sweep of the Big Red gym and area around it about 90 minutes before Clinton arrived. Those attending the rally were not subjected to searches or swept with metal detectors.

  Local officials said the Secret Service informed them that, as a former president, Clinton is considered a low-risk target, thus the metal sweeps and heavier security afforded candidates and the sitting president are not used.

  He was heckled at one point by pro-life movement members from the Franciscan University of Steubenville who lifted anti-abortion signs during the rally. He strongly defended his wife’s record on caring for children and unwed mothers, including sponsoring legislation to assist women who have children out of wedlock to keep welfare benefits if they move back in with their own parents.

  “Tell the truth,” Clinton said. “If you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor who performs an abortion andevery woman who has an abortion in jail for murder.”

   The former president said abortion went down by as much as 20 percent while he was in office “without keeping people all revved up and calling them “killers.’”

   He also challenged the group, saying, “Everybody who says they are pro-life say they will get rid of Roe v. Wade, but nobody tells you how they’re going to do that. It’s not gone yet.” Roe v. Wade is the 1972 Supreme Court decision that permitted abortion on demand in the United States.

   Clinton drew loud cheers when he said he and his wife disagree with the students’ viewpoint.

  “She said every abortion is a tragedy,” Clinton said, but should be safe and legal and a woman’s choice.

   That sentiment is opposed by students from Franciscan University of Steubenville who protested outside Big Red.

   “I am down here supporting a vote for life. I will protest any presidential candidate who doesn’t support life,” said student Steven Valentine, from Alexandria, Va.

   Clinton also spoke of his wife’s efforts to improve childrenás health care, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program and standing up for women’s rights around the world.

   His message for the rally was that Sen. Clinton has been an agent of change and has the experience to be the president. He delivered his address without notes, and aides said there was no prepared text. One aide said the former president “keeps it fresh at every stop.”

   Clinton resumed his speech after responding to the heckler without losing his train of thought, which was on education at that point.

   Clinton said the economic stimulus package has a problem in that most Americans think the nation has been in a recession for several years. He said Sen. Clinton would, as president, make health care more affordable and improve access and financing to college education, including restoring low-interest government loans for college and providing people in certain careers, such as law enforcement, medicine and education, to be able to repay their loans by employment service.