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A pledge for workers

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By Carol A. Clark

ALBUQUERQUE — Today is Super Tuesday, and Democrats in 23 states are going to the polls to help decide who will become the next president of the United States. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., tried Saturday night to convince some 3,000 people she’s the right person to lead the country. “I want you to hire me for the hardest job in the world,” Clinton said during her “Solutions for the American Economy” town hall at Highland High School. “And I want you to know what I will do for you.”The crowd was on their feet screaming and yelling and waving signs. A woman near the stage fainted and Clinton’s daughter Chelsea rushed to her aide, calling for water for the overheated woman.Clinton apologized for making the audience wait in the stuffy gym for more than an hour. Her plane experienced mechanical problems earlier in the day in California putting each stop farther behind, she said.Clinton energized her enthusiastic supporters when she went after the Bush administration and wealthy oil and health insurance company executives. She told the crowd Exxon-Mobil reported a $40 billion profit for the last quarter. The boos were deafening.“I don’t think they need your tax money to make that kind of profit anymore,” she said. “In fact, I think there ought to be a windfall-profits tax that will also be used to fund clean energy. We’ve got to do this for our security and we’ve got to do this for our planet. Contrary to President Bush, global warming is real.”Clinton talked about creating a Strategic Energy Fund by removing tax subsidies given to oil companies and to companies that are taking jobs overseas. She said she will provide incentives for clean-energy technologies. She also advocated mandating that 20 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable resources by 2020. She said none of this can be done until the “two oil men leave the White House.”She continued, “There’s so much at stake. Our country has been muddling through for the last seven years  ... I am hoping that we will have the opportunity come Jan. 20, 2009, to repair the damage and move our country forward again.”She spoke at length about her health care proposal, the American Health Choices Plan,  and said it is the only initiative that is truly a “universal” health care plan. “Insurance companies are not so happy with me, but they haven’t been for a long time,” Clinton said. “They said we wouldn’t be able to make enough money that way. I’m offering them a different business model. They can make money. They just cannot deny Americans any longer the right to have the health care that should be provided to each and every one of you.”The crowd cheered when she promised to end No Child Left Behind. She advocates a $3,500 tax credit for each child and said she will increase the amount of federal Pell Grants and make them year-round. Clinton also said she plans to let students work in a national service to earn $10,000 a year toward college tuition and help students pay their college debt by performing public service.On immigration reform, Clinton said her plan includes deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed a crime. She said they will have to pay a significant fine for their crime. Undocumented immigrants also will have to pay back taxes under her plan, which she said will contribute to programs that support American families, adding that they also need to learn English.“Employers will no longer be able to drive wages down, exploit the undocumented, and take jobs away from hard-working Americans,” she said.Clinton ended her speech telling the crowd, “If you are ready to change, I am ready to lead. Let’s go make history together.”New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish; Henry Cisneros, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farmworkers Union; and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez spoke in support of Clinton at the Saturday event.“We have for the first time in the 200 years of our history to send to the White House a mother, a daughter, a wife –  someone who sees problems from a different perspective,” Cisneros said, followed by thundering applause from the audience.Denish, who is chairing the New Mexico for Hillary campaign, told the crowd, “We are at a point in history where we are standing with a woman who is just steps away from walking into the Oval Office.”Clinton took a break Sunday in Minneapolis to watch the Super Bowl. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, watched the game at a private residence in Red River. The get-together fuels speculation Clinton may tap Richardson for her vice presidential running mate or is ramping up the pressure for Richardson to endorse her candidacy. Since dropping out of the race last month, Richardson has yet to endorse a candidate.On Monday, Clinton held a “Voices Across America” national town hall on the Hallmark Channel and at hillaryclinton.com. Citizens from across the country asked the candidate questions and expressed concerns.There are 1,678 delegates at stake in today’s open primaries. New Mexico has 38 of those delegates, of which only 26 will be selected by caucus voters. Opponent Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., currently leads with 63 delegates to Clinton’s 48 among the primaries and caucuses that have taken place thus far.