Clinton rallies backers in area

At a Center City forum, she raised campaign funds and assailed the Bush administration.

Posted: September 06, 2007

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton came to Philadelphia yesterday to fire up her female supporters and raise money for the long presidential campaign ahead.

About 800 people paying $100 each filled the ballroom at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel for the "Club 44 Women's Forum" to see the candidate up close and to hear appeals for them to get out and help make her the 44th president of the United States.

Afterward, Clinton met with about 70 contributors who had paid $1,000 or $2,300 to attend a reception for her at the hotel.

At the larger rally, women came in designer dresses and capri pants, high heels and Birkenstocks. Most clearly were committed to Clinton, but some wanted to hear what she had to say.

Among the uncertain was Flossie Royster of Germantown.

"I really don't know. I'm torn between [Barack] Obama, Hillary and [John] Edwards," she said.

On the other hand, there was Anne Todd, a designer from Devon, who brought her own large, handmade "Hillary for U.S. President" sign.

"I think Hillary is the best person for the job, and I want to do everything I possibly can to support her, because we have to get out of the quagmire the current administration has got us into," she said.

Clinton's speech made no mention of her Democratic opponents, focusing on Bush administration policies and what she would do to change them.

The crowd enthusiastically welcomed her promises to withdraw from Iraq, make health care available to everyone in the country, improve education, and support working families.

But the biggest applause came when she said that if elected she would send envoys from both parties around the world before her inauguration to declare that "cowboy diplomacy is over."

A number of Democratic female officials from Pennsylvania took part in the rally/forum, joining Clinton on the stage, including Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, state Treasurer Robin Wiessmann, State Sen. Connie Williams, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, and Philadelphia City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

Clinton acknowledged the presence of Mayor Street, who has endorsed the New York senator, and she gave a peck on the cheek to Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Nutter.

Afterward, Nutter said that he had not endorsed any of the Democrats in the presidential race, but that he tried to meet with, or at least greet, them when they visited the city.


Contact staff writer Joseph Gambardello at 215-854-2153 or jgambardello@phillynews.com

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