From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
PORTAGE, Ind. -- The Clinton camp has worked hard of late to portray Hillary Clinton as the fighter in the race, someone with the determination to see her plans through no matter what the obstacles. Yesterday in North Carolina, Gov. Mike Easley (D) raised some eyebrows when he said Clinton was so determined she made "Rocky Balboa look like a pansy."
Well this afternoon, a local labor leader introducing Clinton pushed the envelope further, saying the nation needed a leader "that has testicular fortitude."
While defending Bill Clinton's role in the passage of NAFTA, Paul Gipson, president of a steelworkers local, said that union members need to look forward, and support a leader who can work to amend and improve provisions in the trade agreement.
"I truly believe that that's going to take an individual that has testicular fortitude," he said. "That's exactly right. That's what we gotta have."
Clinton, standing behind Gipson, smiled sheepishly before breaking into a nervous laugh. Gipson continued by slamming unnamed "Gucci-wearing, latte-drinking, self-centered, egotistical people that have damaged our lifestyle," before endorsing and introducing Clinton.
The New York senator, after some introductory remarks, then had some fun with Gipson's remarks. "I must say, Paul, I appreciate that endorsement. It means a lot to me," she said. "I do think I have fortitude. Women can have it as well as men."
Many in the crowd roared with approval.
Clinton's remarks focused heavily on trade issues and was full of hearty praise for the role of unions in American history.
"And no state needs a president more who understands the importance of manufacturing and the significance of the labor union movement than Indiana," she said. "We've got to fix our trade laws; it's overdue, and we've got to get tough on China. But you can't just make speeches about it; you both have to have a plan to do it and then you've gotta have the follow-through, so that when we get back to the White House in January 2009; we're going to hit the ground running, and we're going to start fixing the economy again."
The event took place after Clinton's much-anticipated interview with Bill O'Reilly was taped. She referred to it in passing while discussing her plan on taxes.
"I just taped an interview that will be on FOX tonight with Bill O'Reilly," she said, drawing some jeers. "Hey, I'm running for the toughest job in the world," she joked.
"We got into a little back and forth 'cause he said, 'You're going to raise my taxes, aren't you?' I said, 'I sure am.' If you make more than $250,000, you're gonna go back to pay the tax rates you paid in the 1990s. Because frankly, I'd rather cut taxes on all of you, and that's exactly what I'll do."