Friday, February 8, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton began yesterday to reach out to young voters — a key demographic — who so far have been major supporters for Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic nominating contests.

  • Photos: Hillary campaigns in Arlington

    “Are you ready for change?” Mrs. Clinton asked a crowd of teens and supporters at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. “I think we all are, but we have to think about what that change really means and what it will look like.”

    The New York senator talked about the economy, making college affordable, health care and creating jobs by investing in environmental energy sources. She also talked of bipartisanship and was somewhat glowing in references to Republican candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

    “I have the greatest respect for my friend and colleague Senator McCain, but I believe he will bring more of the same,” she said. “He believes we should be in Iraq for the next 100 years, and I think we can bring them home in the first 60 days.”

    She said Mr. McCain, who has a commanding lead in the Republican primary battle for the nomination, “doesn’t know a lot” and won’t focus enough attention on the economy.

    Mrs. Clinton also called for abandoning the Bush No Child Left Behind policy, a position popular with former presidential candidate New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and with many Hispanic civil rights groups. That demographic has supported her in contests so far.

    “I believe we should get rid of the No Child Left Behind because there are better ways to partner” with the federal government, she said.

    Mrs. Clinton is expected to have a tough time against Mr. Obama in the Washington area. She has not done well with young, higher-educated, black and wealthy voters, demographic groups that make up much of the area.

    Mr. Obama, who campaigned in this region early in the campaign, did his best to channel former presidential contender John Edwards during a speech he gave in New Orleans on how he would rebuild the city and best serve the poor.

    But unlike Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama went after Mr. McCain straight away.

    “I would be in a stronger position to have a discussion about how we’re going to reform Washington against John McCain, given that I don’t take [political action committee] money, I don’t take federal lobbyists’ money, I’ve been a champion on these issues,” Mr. Obama told a group of about 4,000 at Tulane University.

    “I think Senator Clinton would have a harder time making some of those arguments.”

    He outlined a multitiered plan to rebuild the city and protect it from future storms.

    “We will finish building a system of levees that can withstand a 100-year storm by 2011, with the goal of expanding that protection to defend against a Category 5 storm.”

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