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HILLARY ENDS WHIRLWIND TOUR OF STATE CLINTON PUSHES HEALTH CARE, END TO WAR, EDUCATION


Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Page: 1A
Byline: SARAH K. WINN

sarahkwinn@wvgazette.com


LOGAN - As her weeklong tour of West Virginia drew to a close Monday, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton told her supporters that she needs their votes in today's primary if she's going to be the next president.


"I'm going to work as hard as I can until the polls close tomorrow," she told several hundred people at Logan High School Monday afternoon. "This going to be a crucial turning point in the election, If you stand up for me [today], I will stand up for you every single day [in the White House]."


The New York Democrat began her day in Charleston, then went to Clear Fork in Wyoming County before heading to Logan. On Monday evening, she boarded a plane for Fairmont and Gov. Joe Manchin's election-eve rally.


At each stop, Clinton told her supporters her plans to fix the economy, offer universal health care, fund higher education and end the war in Iraq.


"We can't just sit idly by and not deal with our problems and not have solutions," she said. "We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work and start acting like Americans again."


Mort Victorson, 84, and his wife Debbie donned Clinton stickers during her first stop at Tudor's Biscuit World on Washington Street East in Charleston.


Debbie Victorson said she would vote for Clinton because "she is married to Bill and she isn't Obama."


"I don't know her personally, but I like everything she stands for," said her husband, who said he has voted in every election for the past 63 years.


He believes that if Sen. Barack Obama gets the Democratic nomination for president, then Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, will win West Virginia in November.


One woman in Tudor's Monday morning strongly disagreed. Doris Smith, 61, of Institute sat in a booth with her husband, Sterling, proudly wearing an Obama T-shirt.


"I just happened to be here," she said. "I am a supporter of [Obama], but right now I'm concerned about who can be the strongest against McCain."


Still, Smith said she'd support Clinton if she gets the Democratic nomination. She even got some face time with the former first lady.


"I told her to stop the character assassination and start dealing with the issues," Smith said.


Later, at Westside High School in Wyoming County, Clinton spoke to a group of supporters that included high school students and community members.


"We need a president that understand that rich people don't make America great. It is the hard-working people like those in West Virginia," she said.


Her mentions of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, were frequent.


"I'm going to get back America back on track, the way my husband did," she said. The crowd erupted in applause.


Savannah Morgan, 18, a senior at Westside High, will be voting for the first time today.


"I was really excited she came to our school," she said following Clinton's speech. "It was just fun."


Marilyn Toler, who works at Westside, was encouraged by Clinton's vision.


"Everything she said was wonderful," Toler said. "Hopefully, she will be the one to turn America around."


At Logan High School, state Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin got the crowd riled up before Clinton took the stage.


He urged them to drive Clinton to an even larger victory than predicted by polls, some of which have her beating Obama in West Virginia by as much as 40 percent.


Chafin said the margin could be "80-20 or 90-10. Let's get the national media's attention."


Clinton followed, saying a primary vote could mean a win for her in November.


"West Virginia is really an indicator of which way the political wind will below," she said. "Nominate someone who can beat John McCain in November. ... I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I would be the best president for West Virginia and America."


Ursula Damron, 61, of Logan came to the United States from Germany in 1960. Now an American citizen, she previously voted for Bill Clinton.


"I'm so proud to be an American I could cry," she said following the rally. "She has a good chance."


Along with her husband, Virgil, a retried coal miner, Damron brought her grandchildren, Konner, 3, and Kelsey, 5 to the rally.


"It is very important to start [an interest in politics] early," she said. "As they grow up, they have to lead the country."


Nichole Bedford, 36, of Omar also brought her daughter to see Clinton. Bedford is voting for Clinton in the primary for a simple reason.


"Because she's a woman," she said in a matter-of-fact tone.


So, if Clinton doesn't get the Democratic nomination?


She paused. "I'll vote Republican," she said.


To contact staff writer Sarah K. Winn, use e-mail or call 348-5156.


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