Clinton Again Hints At Joint Ticket

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday again raised the possibility that she might run with rival Sen. Barack Obama on the same Democratic presidential ticket.

Speaking to voters in Mississippi, where Sen. Barack Obama is expected to do well in next week's primary, Clinton said, "I've had people say, 'Well I wish I could vote for both of you. Well, that might be possible some day. But first I need your vote on Tuesday."

It is the second time this week that she has hinted at a joint ticket with the Illinois senator; he has not ruled it out but says it is premature to be having those discussions.

The town hall meeting at a train depot in Hattiesburg was Clinton's second appearance in Mississippi, where 33 delegates will be allocated in its Democratic presidential primary Tuesday.

Clinton has already sought to lower expectations for the contest in this state where Obama is expected to do well, largely because of his increasing appeal among black voters.

Mississippi's population is 37 percent black.

"I know that I may have an uphill battle here in the state, I appreciate that," Clinton said.

But even if she does not win the state, Clinton is trying to collect as many delegates as she can now that the race has turned into a numbers game; she slightly narrowed the gap with Obama this week when she won three primaries in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island.

Perhaps mindful that her audiences in Mississippi might view Obama favorably, Clinton has leaned more towards criticizing the Bush administration and has mostly refrained from direct attacks on her opponent.

She told the Mississippi audience that the Labor Department's report on Friday showing a loss of 63,000 jobs nationwide in February is an alarming sign of economic troubles.

"The economic policies of the Bush administration are failures. People are out of work, and the work they have doesn't pay what it used to pay," Clinton said.

The Labor Department's report also indicated that the nation's unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people gave up looking for jobs. The jobless rate was 4.9 percent in January.

Job losses were widespread: in construction, manufacturing, retailing, financial services and a variety of professional and business services. Those losses swamped gains elsewhere, including education and health care, leisure and hospitality and the government.

Clinton, who supported the bipartisan federal economic stimulus plan, has said the plan's immediate tax rebates are not enough to avoid a downturn. Among other things, she proposes extending unemployment insurance and investing in so-called "green collar jobs."

While in Mississippi, Clinton also addressed an audience of several hundred Democrats at Thursday night's Jefferson-Jackson-Hamer Day dinner. Signs for both candidates dotted the arena, and she entered to chants of "Hillary" and "Yes we can," which is an Obama campaign mantra.

"Now whether you are supporting me or not, you're supporting the kind of historic change that comes maybe once a generation," she said. "This is our time, Democrats. This is our opportunity."

Clinton also might have to try to soothe any hurt feelings from her comment last year about the state. Clinton was speaking with the Des Moines Register about how Iowa and Mississippi were the only states yet to elect a woman to Congress or as governor, when she said:

"How can Iowa be ranked with Mississippi? That's not what I see. That's not the quality. That's not the communitarianism, that's not the openness I see in Iowa."

Obama supporters, including former Gov. Ray Mabus, held a news conference Wednesday at Obama's campaign office in Jackson to remind voters of what she had said. Mabus said Clinton had insulted the state.

"It's kind of clear what she was doing. She was trying to curry favor with Iowa because there was an election going up there," Mabus said. "It's also clear that she didn't expect ever to have to be in Mississippi."

Ending her speech, Clinton acknowledged her remarks and said the state has a chance to make a real statement.

"And that is for Mississippi to vote for a woman for president on Tuesday. Let's go make history together," she said, before breaking into an Obama-like chant of "Yes we will! Yes we will!"

After her Mississippi events, Clinton was headed to Wyoming to campaign ahead of its Saturday caucus, another state that her campaign has already said is likely to favor Obama.