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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2008

Clinton pledges help for common man in Ohio

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hillary Clinton receives an introduction from Gov. Ted Strickland as she campaigns in economically hard-hit parts of Ohio. Hillary Clinton receives an introduction from Gov. Ted Strickland as she campaigns in economically hard-hit parts of Ohio.
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ZANESVILLE, Ohio - Hillary Clinton called herself a "fighter and a champion" yesterday and promised to help the common man with more jobs, affordable health care, and an end to the subprime mortgage crisis.

The Democratic New York senator was joined by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, former Sen. John Glenn, and others for an economic solutions summit.

"When it comes to our economy, we can do a lot better, Mrs. Clinton declared.

The New York senator said she envisioned a "middle-class comeback."

The panel-format summit was the first stop for Mrs. Clinton in a string of campaign events in the economically hard-hit Appalachian area of Ohio.

Much of the discussion came back to the same things: jobs, the economy, and health care.

Among the topics Mrs. Clinton directed the conversation toward was transitioning Ohio and other states from economies once dependent solely on manufacturing industries into green technology-based jobs.

"I believe we can create at least 5 million new jobs in America in the next 10 years," Mrs. Clinton said to about 1,000 supporters gathered at Zane State College.

Mrs. Clinton said government has to help jump-start and assist green technology companies with low-interest loans and stop the flood of American jobs to other countries.

"What we have got to do to level the playing field is eliminate every single tax break people get for eliminating jobs," Mrs. Clinton said.

The senator briefly addressed NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which she previously has said was advantageous for some parts of the nation but not Ohio.

"I know that NAFTA has hurt a lot of Ohio families," she said. "That's why I have taken action."

Mrs. Clinton moderated the summit, which had the feel of a rousing campaign rally.

In responding to questions from the senator, most participants took the opportunity to praise Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Strickland told the senator that Ohio would benefit most with her in the White House.

"I believe, and I'm going to sound very political here I think you are the only candidate [who] can help us realize the democratic dream, and an American dream since the days of Harry Truman, who tried to get universal health care," Mr. Strickland said.

Mrs. Clinton's opponent for the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama, was not mentioned by any participants during the event.

After the two-hour summit, Mr. Strickland said he would continue to support Mrs. Clinton's candidacy regardless of the outcome of next week's primary.

"I would never urge the senator to not continue until it is mathematically impossible to win," he said.

Mrs. Clinton promoted her universal health-care plan and said it would help fix the nation's economic woes since business' health-care costs hinder efforts to be competitive.

"I believe in universal health care, no exceptions, no excuses," she said.

Mrs. Clinton shared the stage with Dave Cimperland, a Rocky River, Ohio, resident who has worked for General Motors for more than four decades.

He asked the senator to help reduce health-care costs and concentrate on balancing trade deficits between this country and others.

Mr. Cimperland added that General Motors adds $1,600 to the cost of each vehicle to cover its employee health care.

"We cannot continue to pay what we pay for health care and remain competitive," Mrs. Clinton said. "The average American family pays $1,200 a year."

Also flanking the senator were Robert Landry and Beth Dlabay, Dayton residents who lost their home to foreclosure.

Mr. Landry recounted the events that led to losing their home. He said a predatory lender pushed him into foreclosure. Mr. Landry said he supported Mr. Strickland for governor and would support Mrs. Clinton because she appeared to genuinely care for those types of problems.

Shanda Keefer of Coshocton, Ohio, who attended the summit with her 13-month-old daughter, said Mrs. Clinton's consistent message to revive U.S. jobs and reform the health-care system most resonate with Ohio voters.

Jim Ruege, a high school teacher in Zanesville, said he hopes Mrs. Clinton's presidential bid is successful so she'll address foreign trade deficits.

"I'm concerned about trade policies with China and jobs leaving the United States," Mr. Ruege said.

Mrs. Clinton was expected to deliver a similar message during a rally at a high school last night in Belpre, Ohio, near the West Virginia border. More than 1,000 people turned out for the event.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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