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Obama will win contest, Hillary tells Utah fans

WEST VALLEY CITY — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton thrilled many of her Utah supporters Saturday in a lively speech at West Valley's Cultural Celebration Center, an event that raised about $50,000 for the Utah Democratic Party.

While Clinton's audience stood and cheered the former Democratic presidential candidate, Clinton had another goal in her Utah visit: a $10,000-per-person fundraiser for her presidential campaign — still millions of dollars in debt — in Park City earlier in the day.

Those hearing Clinton in West Valley were glad to see her — and hear some encouraging words for Democrats in Utah, one of the most Republican states in the nation.

"It is a fact, John McCain will win Utah," Clinton, D-N.Y., said to a smattering of "boos."

"But I have some very good news: Barack Obama will win the White House. He's competing in the West. And by his second term, he's going to win Utah, too," she said to loud cheers from the approximately 1,000 people who paid $50 a head ($250 for seats up front).

Clinton went through a litany of what she believes are mistakes by the Bush administration and national Republicans. Two years ago, she said, Democrats were warning of the housing and mortgage crisis, worried about middle-class families "who were invisible to George Bush and John McCain."

But Bush, McCain and Republicans did nothing. Then, said Clinton, when Wall Street began to fall, Republicans "couldn't act fast enough."

"They wanted to bail out the big banks, bail out the big insurance companies. What about the millions who have lost their jobs, their homes? Who is going to bail them out? It is time to start paying attention to working families," she said.

A lot of people are talking about politics today, she said. "They are asking, 'Who are you for?' That is not the right question. The question is, 'Who is for you? Who is for your family, your education, your health care? Who will reach out to the rest of the world during these crises?"'

She said she knows that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are for you. "And that is why I am for them," said Clinton.

"I'm proud to be with Utah Democrats, you are a hardy brand," she joked. A few years ago, Utah Democrats may have been near designation as an endangered species. No more. "You've come back. You know how to fight, win and overcome the odds. You never give up. And I don't either — that's why I admire you."

Camille Robinson of Taylorsville was one cheering Clinton during the 20-minute speech.

"I was a little apathetic after she got out of the (presidential) race," said Robinson.

Clinton finished second to Obama in the Feb. 5 Utah presidential primary. She stayed in the primary battle until late spring.

But then after Clinton endorsed Obama, "it was easy to move over to support Barack," Robinson said. "I've supported and loved Hillary for years. I believe she was a great part of the success of the (Bill)) Clinton presidency. ... Those were eight great years."

The $50,000 raised by Clinton for the Utah Democratic Party will go toward a new "Utah Common Values" public relations campaign the party kicked off this week, party officials said.

"The Republican Party of Utah is no longer the party many Utahns believe it is," said Wayne Holland, Democratic Party chairman. "Almost every day its leaders demonstrate how out of touch the party is with the values all Utahns share."

The Utah GOP has been taken over by a right-wing core that doesn't reflect normal Republican values, he said.

Holland said from Utah Democrats: "You won't hear rants or media bashing (a reference to the KTALK radio program that some GOP legislators are hosting). No ideological tirades. I think listeners who tune in will discover that our lawmakers and candidates better represent their values."

The campaign includes an hour-long radio broadcast on KLO 1430 AM several times before the Nov. 4 election, as well as radio and television ads.

In one of several "warm-up" speeches given before Clinton arrived from Park City, Salt Lake County Democratic Councilman Randy Horiuchi, known for his bombastic language, said that like "rolling thunder" a wave of Democratic votes will sweep over Utah in 10 days. "We will take the fight to Republicans like their arrogance will never forget — there will be some good old-fashioned butt-kicking" by Utah Democrats.


E-mail: bbjr@desnews.com