She was a bit taken aback at the comment, and standing on the stage in front of an audience of enthusiastic supporters, she replied, “That is certainly the kindest offer I have had in a while.” She paused. “I’d probably be arrested.”
The purpose of Clinton’s visit to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training facility was to unveil a $70 billion economic stimulus package to stave off a recession, now feared with the widespread effects of the mortgage crisis.
She outlined a series of proposals, it was hard not to notice that the differences in her speaking style and overall comfort level coming off her win in New Hampshire. Her tone was softer, her words less stilted. She didn’t even mention the word “change” — although some of the politicos who spoke before her did — which is fast becoming a buzzword so overused it’s been stripped of any meaning. Instead, she emphasized “you.”
“I am going to give this election back to you,” Clinton said, in an indirect reference to the media pundit class that was beginning to write her prospects off just a week ago. At least a couple of times, she said, “I want to be your voice in the White House.”
And in connecting with the crowd, she talked of driving around a clunky car in the 1970s. As she spoke of the peril that many homeowners are facing for signing adjustable rate loans, she admitted that when she bought a home, “I got to tell you. I skimmed my mortgage papers. I didn’t read them.”
She even sounded a bit populist at points, as when she criticized the Wall Street firms for being “complicit” in the mortgage crisis along with brokers and banks. Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack held a fund-raiser for her last summer.
She didn’t mention Sen. Barack Obama, only obliquely referring to him when she charged that “one of my leading opponent’s” health care plan would still leave some 15 million people uninsured.
Gone was any mention that she would be better to fight off the right wing attack machine. In an appeal to bipartisanship, she said, “It is not us vs. them. It is all of us together. We have to come up with solutions.”
Her economic package includes a $30 billion housing crisis fund, a 90-day moratorium on subprime mortgages of at least five years, $25 billion in emergency energy assistance and $10 billion to extend unemployment insurance. If the economy continues to worsen, the plan calls for $40 billion in tax rebates to middle- and working- class families. (Video below.)
With Clinton was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and Rep. Lucille Roybal Allard, as well as Chelsea Clinton.
Later, in a bit of retail campaigning that is all too rare in Los Angeles, Clinton and Villaraigosa lunched at King Taco in Boyle Heights (above), where they chatted with residents in the neighborhood and posed for pictures. When they reached the main window of the taco stand, Villaraigosa immediately started chatting with the cashier in Spanish, as Clinton stood by an laughed at the scene. “The mayor is ordering for me,” she said.
Among those who chatted a bit with Clinton was engineer Sami Wassef, 52. “I’m just torn between Clinton and Obama,” he said. “There are two main things for me. Palestine and Iraq.”
“She’s very personable,” he said about Clinton, but he was quick to add that the “person I really liked was Chelsea. She is not like a politician’s daughter.”
Clinton was scheduled to meet with a group of about 60 top fund-raisers and donors at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday night to thank them for their support and outline plans for the remaining weeks until the Feb. 5 California primary.
Meanwhile, her campaign unveiled a new ad today that draws on the New Hampshire experience, and “you.”
Photos: Top, Jeffrey Ressner; below, Reuters.