— From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
WAKE FOREST, N.C. -- Hillary Clinton stepped up efforts to contrast her positions on a range of issues with Barack Obama's, saying that there is a "difference between making speeches and implementing solutions."
Clinton, speaking in front of a historic home on a warm, sunny
afternoon, introduced some new language to the debate, saying that as
president she would focus on "both the headlines and the trend lines."
It's a push to convince voters that she is offering more than
short-term patches to America's problems.
"Someone running for office, particularly running for the presidency,
has to be able to deal with both," she said. "What I have tried to do
in this campaign is to keep us focused on how we have to plan for the
future. … But also to deal with the day-to-day, because I have seen
very personally the challenges that our families are facing now."
She opened with a renewed defense of her plan for a gas tax holiday,
saying Obama "is running ads and holding press conferences attacking my
plan to try to give you some kind of break this summer." She claimed
the plan would save $70 for average consumers, but much more for people
like truckers, who she said would save $2 billion.
"That's $2 billion that wouldn't go into the cost of the food that you go to the grocery store to buy," she said. "We've got to have a president who isn't living in some ivory tower disconnected from what's going on in people's lives. And I've met a lot of folks in the last couple weeks who are literally sick to their stomach when they pull in to fill up their gas tank."
She later claimed that she had a plan to deal with the mortgage foreclosure crisis before others saw it as an issue (though Sen. Chris Dodd, now an Obama backer, was holding hearing on Capitol Hill early last year before Clinton began to publicly mention it.) She also criticized Obama's health-care plan for leaving 15 million people uncovered, and reminded voters that the Illinois senator voted in favor of the 2005 energy bill.
"There's a difference between making a speech about how you're against the special interests and actually standing up and voting against the special interests," she said.
On what is likely her last day in the Tar Heel State before the primary, Clinton made a pitch that her presidency would be one that unites the country to face the "tremendous amount of work we have to do."
"I am motivated by my fundamental conviction that we're up to the task," she said. "It is we, not me; it's us, because it has to be Americans deciding to change direction. It has to be Americans working to make those changes real in our daily lives. And I am offering very specific solutions about what we can do together."