Clinton campaigns in Louisville

By Juliann Vachon

LOUISVILLE — Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign stopped in Louisville on Saturday afternoon for a rally with energetic supporters who believe, like she does, that the Kentucky Democratic primary matters this year.

“I can’t do any of this without your help,” Clinton said in front of a crowd of about 2,500 at duPont Manual High School’s gym. “You know, Kentucky counts.”

Clinton made a call to young voters, encouraging them to get engaged not only in the election, but also in the country’s future.

“It’s so important we get young people involved,” she said.

Manual students made signs that hung throughout the gym and read “We found our new star” and “Students for Hillary.”

Many view Clinton’s opponent, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, as the young person’s candidate. But younger voters, including UK students, lined the front row of the crowd on the floor and sat behind Clinton on stage waiting to hear her views on ending the war in Iraq, lowering the country’s debt and providing universal health care.

The New York senator’s promise to “make college affordable again” drew a big applause from the crowd.

She promised to provide more need-based aid, increase Pell Grants and forgive student loans for people who enter public service jobs such as teaching or public health positions.

Clinton also touted plans to let students borrow money from the federal government at low interest rates like she did when she was in college.

When she asked people in the crowd to raise their hands if they paid more than 20 percent interest on their student loans, one man yelled that he paid 24 percent.

A UK student at the front of the crowd said Clinton picked up on his response as well.

“She heard me yell 18 percent and repeated it to the crowd. UK representing!” said Anthony Tanner, a vocal music performance junior. “I just hope it hits home to all students that her loan forgiveness and financing programs are the best.”

Former President Bill Clinton, who won Kentucky in his 1992 and ‘96 presidential victories, was in the state campaigning for his wife Tuesday. The couple’s campaign stops are out of the ordinary for Kentucky, whose late primary date typically attracts little attention from potential party nominees.

Obama leads Clinton in pledged party delegate votes, which will determine who goes on to face Sen. John McCain in the presidential election. But Clinton said she is not done yet.

“I do not discourage easily, in case you haven’t noticed,” she said.

Clinton talked for about 40 minutes without notes and took jabs at President George W. Bush’s administration, calling it a “government of the few, by the few and for the few.”

“If you give me the honor of being your president, we will put America back on the right track,” she said.

Clinton never mentioned her opponent’s name during the speech but did allude to her campaign’s previous claims that Obama’s message lacks substance.

“This election isn’t about the speeches we give, it’s about the solutions we offer,” Clinton said.

Her health care plan would allow those not covered or unhappy with their plans to opt into one of the plans offered to members of Congress while keeping everyone’s premium rates low and based on household incomes, she said.

She promised to get rid of tax breaks for companies that export jobs out of the country and to provide benefits for those that keep jobs in America.

Clinton also focused on energy policy, calling for more “green-collar jobs,” such as weatherizing homes, retrofitting buildings, installing solar panels and working on alternative fuel solutions such as clean coal and biofuels.

The federal government also needs to take back control of building and maintaining its infrastructure, Clinton said, instead of outsourcing the jobs to private companies.

“We’ve got to ask ourselves, ‘What do we need to do to make sure our security is in American hands,’ ” she said.

UK student Jess Kropczynski, who attended the Obama rally at the Lexington Center in August, said Clinton has Obama beat in terms of her specific policy proposals.

“Obama was just full of empty phrases,” said Kropczynski, a doctoral sociology student. “Hillary actually came out here and had a plan.”