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Clinton offers $7 billion to create jobs, Obama slams NAFTA

 Chelsea Clinton laughs as she listens to a question from a student at York College in York, Pa., during a campaign stop for her mother Hillary Rodham...

Campaign 2008 Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton laughs as she listens to a question from a student at York College in York, Pa., during a campaign stop for her mother Hillary Rodham...

In an all-out tussle for Pennsylvania's critical labor vote, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday she would provide billions of dollars in job-creation tax incentives to U.S. companies, and rival Barack Obama told workers he would fight trade deals such as those adopted under the Clinton and Bush administrations.
The Democratic presidential candidates have been crisscrossing Pennsylvania, whose April 22 primary puts 158 delegates at stake. They have been portraying themselves as labor's best friends in a state where 830,000 union voters, many of them among a record 4.1 million registered Democrats, were expected to have a strong say in who wins.
Speaking in Pittsburgh, once a center of the U.S. steel industry, Clinton proposed $7 billion (euro4.5 billion) a year in new tax benefits and investments to help companies create jobs in the United States. She said she would finance the program by removing tax breaks to American firms that are moving jobs abroad.
Obama criticized a pending trade agreement with South Korea while addressing a meeting of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, a major American union federation. There has been strong opposition to the agreement because of barriers erected by Seoul to keep out U.S. autos and beef.
"What I refuse to accept is that we have to sign trade deals like the South Korea Agreement that are bad for American workers," Obama said.
"What I oppose _ and what I will always oppose _ are trade deals that put the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interests of American workers. That's why I opposed NAFTA," he said as he wrapped up a six-day bus tour through Pennsylvania.
The Illinois senator and Clinton have spent weeks arguing over which one of them did or did not oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal with Mexico and Canada that was struck during the presidency of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton's husband.
Speaking to the same unions a day earlier, Clinton said as first lady she had forcefully battled the deal, which is unpopular with organized labor because it helped corporations move many blue collar jobs out of the country to use cheaper labor.
Daily schedules released by National Archives last month showed her holding at least five meetings in 1993 aimed at helping win congressional approval of NAFTA. The Obama campaign said the meetings show Clinton was misrepresenting her record.
A new poll showed Clinton's lead over Obama in Pennsylvania had shrunk slightly from the 12-percentage-point edge she held in mid-March. The Quinnipiac University telephone poll, which ended March 31, showed Clinton with 50 percent and Obama with 41 percent.
Clinton is well ahead of Obama among the state's white voters, 59 percent to 34 percent, while Obama gets nearly three of four black votes. She beats him among women, while the two are even with men. As usual, Obama does best with younger voters while Clinton leads among older ones.
Nationally, Clinton is running about even with Obama, 49 percent to 46 percent, in the latest Gallup Poll, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The poll was conducted March 30-April 1 and involved interviews with 1,262 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters.
Obama received endorsements Wednesday from a labor union and two Democratic superdelegates.
The Illinois senator peeled off an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has endorsed Clinton. The Philadelphia-based local of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees has about 16,000 members.
Its president, Henry Nicholas, announced the endorsement while introducing Obama at a meeting of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO in Philadelphia.
Nicholas, who also is president of the 150,000-member national union, said he took the step "because justice told me it was the right position to take."
Meanwhile Wednesday, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal and former Montana Sen. John Melcher both endorsed Obama. As superdelegates to the national convention, they are among the Democratic Party leaders who will decide the nomination, because although Obama leads Clinton in delegates neither one can win solely with pledged delegates awarded through primaries and caucuses. Obama handily won Wyoming's March 8 caucus; Montana holds a Democratic primary June 3.
Since last Friday, Obama has cut Clinton's lead among superdelegates by four; she has 250 to his 220. The overall delegate count is now 1,634 for Obama, to Clinton's 1,500.
Obama also got backing Wednesday from former Rep. Lee Hamilton, the top Democrat on the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. His support could offer Obama pivotal help in overcoming criticism by Clinton and McCain that he lacks experience in national security and foreign affairs.
Clinton has rejected all calls to end her campaign despite Obama's lead in the popular vote, delegates and state contests won so far.
Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean met Wednesday with Florida lawmakers to discuss ways of allocating delegates that both candidates could accept, saying the party was committed to seating the state's delegates at its convention. The party stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates because they ignored party rules when they moved their primaries to January.
Discussions are continuing over Michigan, he said.
McCain on Wednesday delivered the third in a string of speeches in a weeklong tour designed to introduce him to a wider, general election audience. At the U.S. Naval Academy football stadium, the former Vietnam prisoner of war issued a challenge.
"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you are disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them," he said.
The Vietnam war hero and prisoner of war also said in a radio interview that he was in the process of looking for a vice presidential running mate. The 71-year-old said he was "aware of the enhanced importance of this issue given my age."

Updated : 2021-10-27 21:25 GMT+08:00