— From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
CONCORD, N.H. -- Hillary Clinton
picked a snow-covered apple orchard Friday to deliver a message of
bipartisanship as she kicks off a two-day New Hampshire bus tour.
Joined once again on the campaign trail by mother Dorothy Rodham and
daughter Chelsea, Clinton promised as president to do what she said the
Bush administration hasn't – work across party lines.
introduced testimony from two Republicans, Steve Walter of Londonderry
and Jeff Volk, a New York native who was in Manhattan on 9/11 and in
New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. His voice trembling, he called
the government response to Katrina the "most incompetence" he'd ever
seen, and said Clinton's was the only office who responded to pleas for
help. "Somebody called, and kept on calling to make sure we were okay,"
he said. He also called her "one of the most caring, compassionate,
kind, informed people I met in my life."
Clinton said the
problems facing America aren't Democratic or Republican problems, but
American problems. And she said it was time America got back to the
"solutions business." Then, the senator who a month ago in Des Moines
said it was time to "Turn up the heat" on Republicans touted her work
with the party, including people like Lindsay Graham, Bill Frist and
even James Inhofe. That's a bipartisan approach she said she'll take
into the White House.
"I can do that because it's what I've done for the last seven years," she said. "Because the way that I see it, making change isn't about politics or personalities. It's about standing up for what you believe, and then finding others to stand with you."
She also touted her '06 reelection, saying it was the fruit of hard work on behalf of the voters. "It's because you know when the speeches are done, and the bright lights are turned off and the cameras disappear what really matters is, are you still there?" she said. "I want you to know, that you can count on me. That when I tell you I'll stick with you that's exactly what I'll do."
She did again make a veiled reference to Barack Obama's health care plan. Clinton said that when she introduced her plan for universal coverage, people said it was "controversial" and "politically ambitious. "I said, then who do you want me to leave out?" she said, before citing specific New Hampshire voters she's met who struggle with health care. "I am not running for president to put band aids on problems. I intend to solve them."
The effort to highlight her bipartisan credentials comes as polls show a tightening race in New Hampshire, where independent voters typically decide on their vote at the last moments. "We've got a very fast schedule coming up right after Christmas," Clinton pointed out. "First with the Iowa caucuses and then a quick turnaround and we'll face the first in the nation primary. I need you to go out and stand up for me."
Clinton later stopped by Portsmouth's Popovers on the Square. She ordered a hot chocolate, and then worked the room for twenty minutes, even climbing over a snowbank to shake a few hands outside. "She's just so smart," said Keith Kohler, a Portsmouth resident who came out to see her. "If you're brilliant and driven you can pretty much run the country."