From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Clinton used an enduring local issue -- Yucca Mountain -- to once again make the argument that the country needs a hands-on chief executive as president. Contrasting herself with her chief rival as well as the current president, she said, "Government-by-adviser simply doesn't work."
"George Bush assured us he could run the government by surrounding himself with the best people, and look at what has happened -- a mismanaged war, a failed response to Hurricane Katrina, a struggling economy," she said this morning on the campus of UNLV. "If you don't have the strength and experience to manage the White House, the Pentagon, and the sprawling federal bureaucracy, then it will manage you."
Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe wrote this in a memo this afternoon: "Hillary Clinton may believe this is a race for who would make the best Chief of Staff, but Barack Obama believes this country is looking for a President who has the leadership, vision and ability to bring people of differing views together around a common agenda for change.
Introducing Clinton, former Rep. Jim Bilbray (D-NV) said both Clintons "have always supported us" in the fight against a nuclear waste depository in Nevada. "Other candidates will tell you they had an awakening, like walking on the road to Damascus," Bilbray said. "Senator Clinton didn't have to have that epiphany. She from the beginning has been with us."
In her opening remarks, Clinton outlined how she has worked as recently as last October to challenge the Bush administration on Yucca Mountain, holding a hearing on the safety of the plans. "The Bush administration has turned to the same tired playbook that it uses for Iraq and the economy -- deny inconvenient facts, and ignore the voices demanding change," she said. "I'm here to say that I hear your voices. … When I am president, Yucca Mountain will be off the table once and for all."
She praised Majority Leader and home-state Senator Harry Reid for working to curtail funding of the Yucca Mountain project, but referred to another Harry -- Truman, in saying that the "buck stops with the president." "Being president means being both CEO and COO of one of the largest and most complex organizations in the world," she said. "A president can't just talk about the problems we face, a president has to deliver solutions. So I will be a hands-on manger, holding every part of our government fully accountable to the taxpayers and citizens."
Clinton also argued that Yucca Mountain was not just a Nevada issue, but one that affected the whole country. And, she talked of the Bush administration's larger war on science, quoting Stephen Colbert that they find facts to fit policies rather than policies to fit the facts. And she shared her own experience after 9/11, when the EPA claimed that the air quality at Ground Zero was safe. "I breathed the air. I felt it in my throat. I could see what was happening," she said. "I experienced it first hand, and it was horrific. It was a terrible, terrible negligence and insensitivity, and overt actions that undermined people's health and their very lives."