COLUMBUS, Ohio - Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized President Bush on Saturday
as running a "government of the few, for the few and by the few."
Democratic presidential hopeful US Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks to the Ohio Democratic Party dinner at the Ohio
State Fairgrounds in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, May 12, 2007.
"For six long years our hardworking middle class families have been invisible
to this president," she said, promising to be a president who again sets goals
for the country.
Democrats attending the Ohio state party's annual dinner gave a rousing cheer
when the senator from New York asked, "Are you ready to end the war in Iraq and
restore America's reputation around the world?"
Only two Democrats since 1900 have won the presidency without carrying Ohio
and no Republican has done so.
The state clinched re-election for Bush in 2004, but Democrats have new
optimism that they can win the state that Clinton's husband carried twice.
Democrats captured the Ohio governor's seat for the first time in 16 years
last November and, in a backlash attributed in part to a state government
investment scandal, seized three other statewide offices long held by
The $150-per-plate dinner drew about 3,000 people and generated $550,000
after expenses for the party, the most money the dinner has ever raised, said
Chris Redfern, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman.
Clinton, leading the Democratic field for president in national and Ohio
polls, promised universal health care and said she would make college more
affordable. She also said she would be more aggressive in developing alternative
sources of energy and that her administration would hire more qualified people
for government jobs.
Clinton came to Ohio from South Carolina where she gave the commencement
address at historically black Claflin University earlier on Saturday.
She spoke of making college more affordable and gave a nod to Barack Obama,
her Senate colleague and Democratic primary opponent, while drawing on the
university's 1960s-era demonstrations.
"Think about the students from this university who braved tear gas and water
hoses and beatings and bullets to protest the injustice of segregation and usher
in a new era of equality and never lived to see the day of an African-American
man running for president," Clinton told the crowd of around 4,000 at the
She said the class of 320 graduating students represented a minority who are
able to afford and complete the college degrees they began pursuing.
"But what I'm finding is that so many students and their hardworking parents
and families are balking at the cost of higher education," Clinton said. "When
they see the price tag their hearts sink."
With fewer than half of the nation's students completing the degrees their
start, government must play a larger role, Clinton said.
"We need to begin by making college more affordable and accessible," she
said. "I think we need to take on the student loan industry and send a clear
message they will be held accountable for the way they treat and mistreat
students and families."
She is pushing a "student borrower bill of rights" that sets payments as a
percentage of income and keeps fees and interest rates reasonable. "I don't
believe that you should be subjected to bait-and-switch programs where they tell
you what it's going to be and then they change it on you," she