Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bill Clinton dubs himself 'designated rural hit man'

After former President Bill Clinton wandered off the reservation with some inopportune comments in South Carolina, the presidential campaign of his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, started scheduling him more heavily in rural areas, where she usually does well and there is less national media attention. Yesterday, in Indiana's southeastern corner, he acknowledged his new role.

"I'm the designated rural hit man," the would-be First Gentleman told a crowd in Lawrenceburg, a town of 4,700 in the Cincinnati metro area, reports Pat Crowley of The Cincinnati Enquirer, who writes:

"I like to go to small-town America," said Clinton, who left here early Tuesday afternoon for campaign events in Richmond and Fort Wayne.

"I like to go out to the heartland of the country campaigning.

"It is places like this that are going to propel her to the Democratic nomination and ultimately to the presidency," he said, followed by a loud cheer.

Many in the crowd of 400 "waited 90 minutes in the rain to hear Clinton deliver a 40-minute stump speech for his wife," Crowley reports. (Read more) Crowd estimates are tricky. Bill Ruthhart of The Indianapolis Star, a sister Gannett Co. Inc. paper, pegged the crowd this way: "About 375 people packed a small room in the center to listen to Clinton, and 125 listened in an adjacent room. About 150 students and 50 adults listened to the speech in a nearby firehouse."

Ruthhart reports, "Much of Clinton’s 40-minute speech focused on the economy. He said Hillary Clinton would turn the economy around by solving the subprime-mortage crisis and generating new jobs through an aggressive energy policy." (Read more) "He said his wife appreciated the support she had won in rural areas on her way to primary victories in Ohio, Texas and Missouri," The Associated Press reported. (Read more) For more details on the speech, see Crowley's blog. (AP photo by David Kohl)

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