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Clinton tells Iowans she is ready to be president, Obama says he alone can bring true change

Clinton tells Iowans she is ready to be president, Obama says he alone can bring true change

Democratic presidential candidates headed into the final week of the race for Iowa's caucuses, with Hillary Rodham Clinton saying on Thursday she is ready for the job and Barack Obama declaring he is the only one who can bring true change in Washington.
Clinton has emphasized her Washington experience _ as first lady and then as a senator from New York _ though she, too, calls herself the candidate of change. With the assassination of a Benazir Bhutto as a backdrop, Clinton reminded activists of her experience and familiarity with the White House and the challenges facing the next president.
"Our next president will be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. Waiting on that president's desk in the oval office will be problems that are incredibly difficult, that present challenges to our leadership in the world, to our moral authority, to our economy, to the kind of society we are and want to be," said Clinton, who was campaigning in Lawton, in western Iowa.
Obama, a senator from neighboring Illinois, is spending the final week of the Iowa campaign speaking to voters in small towns across the state. But one week before the Jan. 3 caucuses, he came to the capital of Des Moines to deliver his "closing argument" speech.
"The real gamble in this election is playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expecting a different result," Obama said. "In this election, it is time to turn the page."
The Jan. 3 caucuses in the rural, midwestern state of Iowa are the crucial first contest in political parties' state-by-state process of selecting presidential nominees. Candidates who do well in the caucuses, and in the New Hampshire primary five days later, can gain momentum and media attention, establishing themselves as front-runners. Those who do poorly often decide to drop out of the race.
Most polls have shown Clinton in a very tight and fluid race with rivals Obama and John Edwards, with the stakes very high in next week's caucuses. Clinton has led in national polls but many strategists argue that a win in Iowa could give her the momentum to seal the nomination.
She was working to close the sale in the final week, and leaving nothing to chance. Daughter Chelsea Clinton was at her side and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was keeping his own campaign schedule in the state. It was the first time all three were in the state together, the campaign said.
Clinton's campaign announced that the senator and former first lady will make her final case to Iowans in a two-minute televised appearance on Jan. 2 on the eve of the caucuses. The taped message will air on every 7 p.m. newscast throughout the state.
Clinton hammered home her electability, and described for activists the type of general election campaign she had run.
"I will wage a campaign that stands for our values and our country's future," she argued, warning that she is capable of standing up to what will certainly be withering assault from Republicans.
"The Republicans have been after me for 16 years and I'm still here," Clinton said.
Obama said he decided to run for president less than halfway through his first term in the U.S. Senate because the nation is at a "defining moment" and Americans are hungry for a new kind of politics that speaks to their hopes.
"You know that we can't afford four more years of the same divisive food fight in Washington that's about scoring political points instead of solving problems, that's about tearing your opponents down instead of lifting this country up," Obama said, his voice rising over the cheers of his supporters.
"We can't afford the same politics of fear that tells Democrats that the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, act, and vote like a George Bush Republican, that invokes 9/11 as a way to scare up votes instead of a challenge that should unite all Americans to defeat our real enemies."
Obama has been criticizing Clinton for supporting the president in his move to war with Iraq four years ago and his tough line against Iran today _ although she now opposes the war and says she wants Bush to pursue diplomacy with Iran. Obama's argument for change is up against Clinton's call for voters to avoid electing another president like Bush who is not experienced in foreign policy.
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Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler contributed to this story from Des Moines.


Updated : 2021-06-25 09:49 GMT+08:00