Clinton and Obama Share Billing at Richmond Event
Before Thousands, Both Have Harsh Criticism for McCain
Sunday, February 10, 2008; Page A12
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told a raucous crowd of Democrats in Richmond last night that his three-state win yesterday ratifies his message of change, and opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton told the same audience she is ready to take on likely Republican nominee John McCain.
Obama and Clinton spoke at the Virginia Democratic Party's annual high-profile Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, the only time the two will appear at the same event before voters go to the polls Tuesday in the District, Maryland and Virginia. Clinton and Obama both view Virginia as the major prize.
"Today, voters from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America stood up to say that it is time to turn the page," Obama told about 6,000 party activists and donors. "We won Louisiana and Nebraska and the state of Washington, and I believe that we can win in Virginia on Tuesday if you're ready to stand for change."
Clinton didn't discuss yesterday's contests. But she and Obama both eagerly attacked McCain.
"If I am your nominee, you don't have to worry I will ever be knocked out of the ring," Clinton said. "Because I do have the strength and experience to go toe-to-toe with Senator McCain whenever and wherever he wants."
Obama said of McCain: "He speaks of a hundred-year war in Iraq and sees another on the horizon with Iran. He once opposed George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest few who don't need them and didn't ask for them. He said they were too expensive and unwise. And he was absolutely right. But somewhere along the line, the wheels came off the Straight Talk Express, because he now supports the very same tax cuts he voted against. This is what happens when you spend too long in Washington. Politicians don't say what they mean, and they don't mean what they say."
Clinton criticized President Bush and said McCain represented "more of the same."
"We have tried it President Bush's way: concentrate wealth, hoard power, disregard science, shred the Constitution, smear dissenters, impugn patriots," Clinton said.
In Maryland, the only candidate appearance yesterday was by Republican Mike Huckabee, who spoke at the University of Maryland.
The Jefferson-Jackson dinner, the largest fundraiser for the Democratic Party of Virginia each year, was moved to the Stuart C. Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University from the Richmond convention center to accommodate the crowds eager to hear Clinton and Obama. The event quickly sold out.
Thousands of people from across the state starting gathering hours before the dinner. They came to support their candidates and wait in security lines. Hundreds of rowdy Clinton and Obama supporters staked out prime spots in front of the Siegel Center. Obama supporters appeared to outnumber Clinton supporters outside the center.
Each side chanted and waved signs while police tried to keep them from spilling into the busy street.