Sen. Hillary Clinton made her second appearance in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday at the Pitt Greensburg campus.
Hosted by Pi Sigma Alpha, a political honor society and the Student Government Association, Clinton's rally in the Chambers Hall gymnasium was themed, "Solutions for America."
Her solutions were centered on the economy.
"It's time we had a president who cared more about Westmoreland County than Wall Street," she said.
In more of a talk-show format than a rally, Clinton sat down with two local couples on stage and talked about how to improve the quality of life for middle-class Americans and the "sandwich generation," those taking care of their parents and children at the same time.
Both couples agreed their finances were better under Bill Clinton's administration, and said the rising costs of fuel and education were severely damaging to their families.
The first couple was from Latrobe and owned a small trucking business as well as a janitorial and cleaning business. Both the husband and wife have also held other jobs over the years to make ends meet. They spoke of the difficulties facing them and their two sons, especially the crisis of rising diesel fuel prices.
Clinton said the answer is to become more energy independent.
"It's shocking that we are now more dependent on foreign oil than we were on 9/11," she said. "And remember who the hijackers were and where they were from."
The second couple on stage had been married for 56 years. They discussed their struggles with Social Security and retirement.
"He's spending his pension to heat his home," Clinton said, referring to the man sitting to her left. "That's not what you plan for when you retire."
Clinton related to the families, referencing her childhood when she, her brothers and her mother would help her dad with the family fabric business.
She also said Pennsylvania has a "special place" in her heart because her father lived in Scranton and played football at Penn State, as did her brother.
Clinton has seen support from many Pennsylvanians, including Gov. Ed Rendell, who appeared with Clinton to kick off the event.
Later, when asked if Rendell would play a part in a Clinton administration, she said it was a bit premature to talk about that. She did say that she is a "big fan" of Rendell and he is "an exceptional leader."
After the public forum, Clinton answered questions regarding Sen. Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.
While Clinton frequently referenced Sen. John McCain's poor plan to privatize social security during her speech, the private Q&A was one of the few times she mentioned Obama all afternoon.
"We don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives, but we have a choice as to who our pastor is," she said.
The event was first-come, first-serve, and a long zigzag of people waited outside the doors for hours before the event began. The line weaved all throughout the campus of 1,700 students. Not everyone was admitted to the small gymnasium.
Aaron Slafka, Greensburg's student government president, said Clinton's campaign contacted the campus Friday about her visit, but student volunteers were plentiful in getting ready for the candidate.
"It's a great feeling that she can come here and hear what we have to say," Slafka said. "There was a lot of support, and it went off without a hitch."
Clinton said there has been an increase in young voter registration in Pennsylvania, and she said she felt her numbers there were getting better.
"I was very pleased with the response I've gotten from young people," she said. "This is an exciting election."
She also said she's ot going to give up the race prematurely.
"There are some in Washington and there are some in the media who want this race to be over," she said. "There are some who don't seem to think we need to hear the voices of people in Pennsylvania or North Carolina or Montana or any other state who hasn't had their chance to vote.
"I think everyone deserves to be heard. We still have 10 contests and millions of people to go."
© 2008 The Pitt News via U-WIRE