AKRON, Ohio | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who in a brutal Democratic primary fight drove a wedge between female voters and Sen. Barack Obama in this critical electoral state, worked to repair the damage Sunday and stem a recent shift of white female voters to the Republican ticket.
”Barack and I may have started out on two separate paths, but we are on one journey now,” she told an enthusiastic crowd made up mostly of white women. “With your help, it will lead straight to the White House.”
She bashed the Republican ticket - presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin - for promising “more of the same” policies of President Bush that she said cost Ohio manufacturing jobs, left many without health insurance and made big oil companies richer while the middle class grew poorer.
Mrs. Clinton of New York only once mentioned by name Mrs. Palin, whose addition to the Republican ticket last month is credited with energizing the conservative base and drawing female voters away from Mr. Obama.
“We have a tough road ahead of us to restore American leadership in the world and to tackle the myriad challenges we face here at home,” Mrs. Clinton said. “So to slightly amend my comments from Denver: No way. No how. No McCain. No Palin.”
Cheers erupted from the crowd of about 1,600 in the gymnasium of Ellet High School as Mrs. Clinton reprised the mantra, with the addition of Mrs. Palin’s name, from her speech at last month’s Democratic convention in Denver.
Mrs. Clinton echoed the Obama campaign’s message that Mr. McCain is out of touch with the middle-class voters, saying he would continue Bush policies that neither respect or reward hardworking Americans.
“The people who do the hard work that keeps the economy going … almost invisible to this president,” she said. “He doesn’t see the struggles that go on in your lives everyday. He doesn’t understand the sacrifice that you make.”
An Obama campaign insider said the candidate and his surrogates are trying to ignore Mrs. Palin and redirect the focus of voters to what they describe as failed Republican policies.
“She went after the Republican ticket as a whole as ‘more of the same,’” said Isaac Baker, spokesman for the Obama campaign in Ohio, when asked why Mrs. Clinton did not do more disparage Mrs. Palin. “The issues are about [Mrs. Palin]. She is in lock step with John McCain and the Republican platform.”
Many women in the crowd told The Washington Times that they attended the event out of admiration for Mrs. Clinton and were not yet persuaded to back Mr. Obama on Election Day.
“I’m not sure yet,” said Debbie Pete, 56, a retired factory worker from Akron. “I wanted Hillary [to win the nomination]. That’s why I’m here.”
White women played a large role in Mrs. Clinton’s decisive victory over Mr. Obama in the Ohio primary, backing her 67 percent to 31 percent, according to exit polls.
Mr. McCain currently leads in the Buckeye State by four points but has twice that advantage with white women, 50 percent to 42 percent, according to a University of Cincinnati poll released last week.
Ohio, along with Florida and Pennsylvania, are considered crucial. Since 1960, no candidate has ever won the presidency without winning two of the three states.