Hillary stumps for Obama in Espanola

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By Carol A. Clark

ESPA'OLA — Hundreds of people joined Democratic political heavyweights in the gym at Northern New Mexico College on Sunday to hear Sen. Hillary Clinton stump for her former rival, presidential candidate Barack Obama, D-Ill.

“I know that many of you here today voted for me, you worked for me,” Clinton told the roaring crowd. “I will never forget what you did for me – ever. But I want you to know that if you voted for me you have far more in common with Sen. Obama than you do with Sen. McCain ... I hope you will work as hard for Sen. Obama as you worked for me.”

New Mexico voted narrowly for Clinton in the Feb. 5 caucus. Many of her supporters were in the crowd and overcome with emotion, some were crying.

“I love Hillary,” said 60-year-old Janese Curtis of Chimayo. “She speaks for those who don’t have a voice and we have a lot of those in New Mexico.”

Curtis has been able to make the transition. “I’m for Obama now,” she said. “I think Obama and Hillary will continue to work together and I think Obama reflects my feelings and attitudes about the war and the economy.”

Shaking with excitement, White Rock resident June Cooke, 9, described how she felt about her face-to-face meeting with Clinton. Following Clinton’s 45-minute talk, Cooke successfully made her way to the front of the crowd to meet the former first lady and get her homemade poster signed.

“I was always dreaming that I could actually shake Hillary or Barack Obama’s hand and voila – I just shook Hillary’s hand and I can’t believe she signed my poster,” Cooke said.

She started fourth grade Monday at Pion Elementary School and said her teacher will be thrilled when she sees Cooke’s signed poster.

Carmen Alicea, 79, traveled from Ft. Collins, Colo., to visit her son Santos Ortiz, 59, in Espaola. They attended Sunday’s rally together.

“I’m not too crazy about Obama – he changes his mind too much,” Alicea said. “Hillary would have been better.”

Her son is a Vietnam veteran and a Republican.

“I won’t vote for Obama because he’s not experienced enough,” Ortiz said. “I’m voting for McCain but if it had been between Hillary and McCain, I would have voted for Hillary.”

Delivering brief comments at the rally were Sen. Jeff Bingamen, Rep. Tom Udall, Gov. Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and congressional candidate Ben Ray Lujan who introduced Clinton. Clinton recognized and thanked Espaola Mayor Joesph Maestas who was seated in the audience.

Aside from Sunday’s rally, Clinton was in New Mexico to attend a pair of fundraisers hosted by Richardson, whom she also ran against for president.

Obama was in Albuquerque Monday at a Town Hall meeting and a private gathering where he heard details of New Mexico’s archaic pay inequity in which women earn 71 cents for every dollar men earn for the same work.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is scheduled to appear in Las Cruces Wednesday.