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Published: Friday, 2/15/2008

Clinton takes swipe at Obama in speech at GM plant in Ohio

BY JAMES O'TOOLE
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE
Angela Hitchock, lower left, 18, of Sylvania and Linnea Clausen, center, from Tiffin, a student at Otterbein College, show their support as Gov. Ted Strickland speaks at the Hillary Clinton campaign rally held at Ohio State University's French Field House on Thursday. Angela Hitchock, lower left, 18, of Sylvania and Linnea Clausen, center, from Tiffin, a student at Otterbein College, show their support as Gov. Ted Strickland speaks at the Hillary Clinton campaign rally held at Ohio State University's French Field House on Thursday.
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LORDSTOWN, Ohio - After accepting the incongruous Valentine's Day gift of a pair of boxing gloves, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton pummeled Sen. Barack Obama yesterday, claiming that, "the difference between me and my Democratic opponent [is that he] gives speeches, I offer solutions."

Speaking to several hundred General Motors auto workers in the state essential to her drive for the Democratic nomination, Mrs. Clinton said of the candidate who has defeated her in eight straight contests, "It's one thing to get people excited. I want to empower you to live your dreams so we can all go forward together."

Appearing with Gov. Ted Strickland, Mrs. Clinton was campaigning throughout the state yesterday and today hoping to reap a big delegate harvest here and in Texas on March 4. Mrs. Clinton is pursuing a big-state strategy with no room for error in her quest to regain delegate parity with Mr. Obama.

She is hoping that twin victories in March will be a prelude to a Pennsylvania win on April 22. She got some good news about two of those states yesterday as new surveys by Quinnipiac University depicted big leads for her in two of those crucial states. Quinnipiac found her leading Mr. Obama by the substantial margins of 55 percent to 34 percent in Ohio and 52 percent to 36 percent in Pennsylvania.

"Ohioans are very practical," Mr. Strickland said as he introduced her.

"We know that experience counts."

Mrs. Clinton was also accompanied by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, whose Cleveland-based district will award eight delegates on March 4, double the amount available in some other districts, making it one of the major prizes within the overall state competition.

"I've known her for 15 years," the congressman said of Mrs. Clinton.

"Her record on health care is important here in Ohio."

In her speech on the assembly-room floor, Mrs. Clinton showcased a variety of proposals unveiled earlier in the campaign that would curb the outsourcing of jobs, protect mortgage and credit card borrowers, and prod oil companies to invest in clean energy with the threat of windfall profit taxes.

Her voice, with a hint of hoarseness after the long campaign, competed with the clank and rattle of the sprawling assembly line turning out Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s.

"We'll take on the oil companies and harness their record profits to create millions of clean-energy jobs - high-wage jobs you can raise a family on," she said.

"I'll end their special tax breaks and give them a choice: invest some of your profits in alternative energy, or we'll do it for you. People have been paying through the roof at the pump, and it's time the companies paid their fair share."

In another swipe at Mr. Obama, she criticized him for an energy bill supported by the Bush administration.

"My opponent says that he'll take on the special interests," she said.

"Well, he told people he stood up to the nuclear industry and passed a bill against them. But he actually let the nuclear industry water down his bill - the bill never actually passed."

Mrs. Clinton bristled at a mass mailing distributed by the Obama campaign as she rebutted Mr. Obama's criticisms of her record on trade in a state that has seen a sharp drop in manufacturing jobs.

The Obama campaign greeted Mrs. Clinton's Ohio appearance with a renewed assault on a record that it contends has abetted the shift of manufacturing jobs overseas.

"Today, Senator Clinton will visit the Mahoning Valley and witness some of the devastation that NAFTA, PNTR [a trade accord with China], and other unfair trade agreements have caused, putting thousands of American workers out of jobs. As late as September, 2006, Senator Clinton touted President Clinton's support for NAFTA," the Obama campaign argued.

"Ohio workers know the truth about NAFTA - Ohio ranks fifth among all states in the number of jobs and opportunities lost due to the rising trade deficit with Canada and Mexico since the passage of NAFTA. Ohio lost nearly 50,000 jobs due to NAFTA alone."

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. James O'Toole is the politics editor for the Post-Gazette.

Contact him at: jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.



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