It’s become a Monday ritual in America, this time played out under a giant U.S. flag, in an overcrowded suburban firehouse shaking to the strains of country music.
Hillary Clinton, her Tuesday 2008 political obituary only 24 hours away — again — bounds on to the stage, indefatigable, energized as if this was the first time she had ever visited voters in this part of Indiana, not the 10th time.
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And again, it is Barack Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, who looked drawn in yesterday’s early television appearances, continually fumbling the name of a nationally known host, no longer talking about the knockout punch he could deliver to the former first lady with victories here in Indiana and in North Carolina today.
“This is the real heart and soul of America,’’ Clinton says, speaking of the volunteer firefighters arrayed on the stage behind her, but she’s really speaking of this all-white slice of middle America she needs for victory here today.
It is an unabashed populist theme Clinton dishes up, promising to save American jobs, calling for a global trade timeout, vowing to take on China, telling them she is tough enough to wrestle the big oil companies to the mat.
She is the fighter, she says, the one who can take a punch and get back up, just like the hard-working middle class she is courting.
She promises to cut their gas prices, dismissing Obama and others who call her gas tax holiday proposal a short-term vote grab.
“He’s always going on TV, saying it’s only going to save $20. But to some people $20 is something, isn’t it?’’ she says.
“People live in the short term.’’
“You can do it,’’ members of the crowd shout out.
“We can do it. We can do it together,’’ Clinton calls back.