- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2008

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most loyal supporters here say they have a new reason to back the man who dashed her presidential hopes: They want Sen. Barack Obama to appoint her to the U.S. Supreme Court if he wins the White House.

“I would have liked to see her win, but I’m not wistful,” said Grace Block, 77. “We’d love to see her on the Supreme Court if he would ask her.”

Voters attending Mrs. Clinton’s homecoming rally, a campaign event for her one-time rival, said they will now back Mr. Obama, and most of them, unprompted, told The Washington Times they want him to choose their former first lady for the high court.

“Having her on the Supreme Court would help us a lot. She could make sure we cement Roe v. Wade,” said Judi Woods, a Little Rock supporter who campaigned for Mrs. Clinton across the country during the prolonged primary.

The last time Mrs. Clinton was in Little Rock in January, before the Super Tuesday primaries, she was lauded by locals as the woman who would remember Arkansas when - not if - she reached the White House.

During the rally Friday on the steps of the state Capitol here, Gov. Mike Beebe introduced Mrs. Clinton as “Arkansas’ First Lady,” and noted her 69 percent Feb. 5 victory, her largest primary margin.

“Senator Obama, we brought with us a special person,” Mr. Beebe said. “It’s somebody you know well because she took you all the way to the mat … somebody who will be an ally for you in the halls of the United States Senate, speaking out with a voice loud and clear for those who could otherwise not speak for themselves.”

Mrs. Clinton also nodded to her own primary showing as an “unbelievable percentage,” thanking her old friends who worked on her behalf.

“But I am here today to ask you, ask all of you who worked for me, all of you who voted for me, to do the same for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the next weeks,” she said.

She modified a line she used to promote her own candidacy.

“I remember very well it took a Democrat who used to serve in this Capitol to clean up after the first Bush, and it’s going to take a Democrat to clean up after this Bush,” she said, the same quote she used during the primary, except she would substitute “Clinton” for the word “Democrat.”

The small change of rhetoric was a symbol of the great shift in her role since Mr. Obama clinched the Democratic nomination.

Now the election’s outcome will determine how Mrs. Clinton, 60, will be viewed by Democrats and the nation, along with her political legacy.

“She is a good senator, but she’s on a different level now,” said Gary Green of Little Rock. “She’s got a great future.”

If she’s interested in the Supreme Court nomination, Mrs. Clinton, with four years left in her current Senate term, offered no hints. When thanking the members of the congressional delegation at the rally, she declared: “I look forward to serving with them for years to come.”

The Obama campaign declined to comment for this article.

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant dismissed the hypothetical, since he thinks Sen. John McCain will win Nov. 4, but mocked the idea of Justice Clinton since Mr. Obama “didn’t think enough of Hillary Clinton to even consider her for a spot on his ticket.”

Republicans exploit lingering Clinton-Obama primary wounds, but supporters seem to have left hard feelings behind.

“I was supportive of Hillary, but we’re going to move right on to him,” said rally attendee Sue McDonald. “We need a change, and both of them stood for that.”

Mrs. Clinton has attended more than 50 events for the Democratic ticket - including a rally in Scranton, Penn., with former President Bill Clinton, who told voters they had just celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary.

Mrs. Clinton received a warm welcome in Pennsylvania, another state she dominated during the primary, while making the case for Mr. Obama.

“I haven’t spent 35 years in the trenches fighting for universal health care, for children, for families, for women, for middle-class people to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our nation and the hopes of our people,” she said.

Some of her Arkansas supporters said she should try again for the White House.

“It is kind of sad to see her in this different role, and I’m sure she felt it, too,” said Sharon Ursery, who hopes Mrs. Clinton will give the White House another try in 2016. “Her being here is very gracious. It shows what a good sport she is.”

Not everyone is moving on, though. A September national poll showed more than one-third of Clinton voters weren’t sold on Mr. Obama.

An Arkansas Obama volunteer said a house on her block once displayed a “Hillary” sign, but the front yard now proclaims support for Mr. McCain.

“My next-door neighbors said they are not voting because Hillary didn’t win, and I thought that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Ms. Block said.

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