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Clinton Makes Closing Argument to Women

Written By David D'Angelo on Sunday, December 23, 2007 | 12/23/2007

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday made her closing argument to female voters in a message that could be reduced to three words.

You. Go. Girl.

Clinton, standing in a lobby of a YWCA, told undecided mothers and their daughters that her agenda for families and children is the most aggressive to help them. She touted her family care and child care tax credits designed to lessen the burden on working women.

"We can do a better job in supporting families than we do right now," Clinton said. "We give a lot of lip service to family values, but we've never really valued families in a way that we can."

Clinton, on the last of a two-day trip to this early voting state, tailored her message and appearances to female voters with whom she enjoys a sizable lead in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. She bests rival Barack Obama, 42 percent to 25 percent among women in the latest CNN-WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire. She leads overall in that poll, 38 percent to 26 percent.

A separate New Hampshire poll, released Friday from USA Today and Gallup, showed Clinton and Obama tied at 32 percent each of Democrats overall. Her outreach to women underscores the tightness of the race in this first-in-the-nation presidential primary state and the support she is trying to cement in case she falters in Iowa's three-way race.

Iowa's presidential caucuses are Jan. 3, followed by New Hampshire's primary on Jan. 8.

One voter, a self-described feminist, asked Clinton later in Keene if she thought it was acceptable to support her based solely on her gender.

"Of course I do," Clinton said with laughter. "I'm not asking you to vote for me because I'm a woman. ... But the fact that I am a woman gives this election extra significance."

With daughter Chelsea and mother Dorothy Rodham in tow, Clinton's four-event schedule highlighted what could be a history-making nomination. As her campaign released a list of 3,500 female supporters, she said there are too many challenges facing working mothers.

"We put so many burdens on families trying to do the right thing, trying to take care of their families," Clinton said.

She cited her time as a young mother in Little Rock, Ark.

"When I was a young lawyer and also a mom, I learned how difficult it was for a lot of the other women who worked in the law firm — the secretaries, the paralegals. At 3 o'clock every day, they'd all be on the phone, whispering to make sure their children were there safely. ... It was just such a time of tension and concern to make sure they got home."

Clinton highlighted her proposals to help working women with young children or who — like Clinton — take care of their parents.

"She's going to hit the ground running," said Barbara Marzelli, a mother whose son benefited from a children's health program Clinton supported. "She has the experience, the strength and the commitment — and above all, a heart — to lead the country."

Throughout the day, Clinton's supporters invoked history.

"It's been 220 years and we do not have a woman as a leader of this country," state Sen. Molly Kelly said during a mostly women's meeting in Keene. "My mother passed away this past year. She was 80. I think about that. Only seven years before she was born did women have the right to vote and we take that for granted."

The history wasn't avoided by Clinton.

"As the first mom who would ever be president, I want to set an example that, you know, being a mom and being a daughter and taking care of your family is one of the most important obligations any of us have. You shouldn't have these really false choices presented to people: We can either be good workers or you can be a parent. You can be both," Clinton said in Keene.

Clinton also turned back to her book, "It Takes a Village." She said families have to work together to strengthen their relationships.

"It sounds incredibly old-fashioned, but having a meal together really makes a difference. It stabilizes your children during the day. It gives them a chance to interact with the family," she said. "That kind of investment is every parent would like to be able to do, but so many parents can't."

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer

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