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Hillary Rodham Clinton receives enthusiastic reception in San Francisco

Senator Hillary Clinton. Photo courtesy clinton.senate.gov

By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service

January 29, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton received an enthusiastic welcome when she spoke Saturday with television personality Jane Pauley at a fundraising evening for the charitable programs of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Clinton arrived around 30 minutes late for Saturday's event at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, which was scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m. But when she strode onto the stage, dressed in an orange cheongsam-style shirt and black pants, the audience burst into whooping and cheering, showing no sign of the frustration apparent earlier at her late arrival.

Clinton spoke for close to 90 minutes on a range of topics both domestic and international, and seemed to enjoy a warm repartee with the audience, making jokes and getting laughs from the crowded auditorium.

Some topics were not broached, such as the upcoming full Senate hearings for the nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Samuel Alito.

The underlying theme of Clinton's conversation was her charge that the Bush administration prefers ideology over facts and is riddled with a "combination of arrogance and incompetence."

"In a democracy there has to be some factual basis on which you make decisions," she said, referring to what she said was the administration's failure to handle adequately issues such as the prescription drug needs of many Americans.

She returned to this theme again in her criticism of the administration's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"We are now watching a deliberate policy of neglect take root" in hurricane-afflicted regions, she said, and added that she even suspected the Republican leadership was happy to see depopulated and traditionally Democrat parts of Louisiana remain unreconstructed.

Clinton spoke at length on foreign policy and seemed especially keen to elaborate on the recent Palestinian elections, affirming the President's declaration that the U.S. cannot negotiate with a government that advocates violence and the destruction of Israel.

On other international topics she lamented what she regarded as the absence of leadership in the U.S.

The administration has been "outsourcing our policy on Iran to the Europeans," she said, and added that American policy toward North Korea has been passed on to China.

Clinton's position on the war in Iraq received attention even
before she arrived.

Already by around 6 p.m. protestors had gathered outside the Masonic Center, waving signs and banners. Several groups, including Code Pink and World Can't Wait, protested Clinton's support of the war in Iraq.

"She's really let us down," said Corrine Goldstick of Berkeley, a member of Code Pink.

"There's a myth that because she's a woman [and] she's a Democrat,
she's our best bet," said Not in Our Name member Maya Jones of Oakland.

Protests continued while Clinton's conversation with Pauley was underway when a few demonstrators seated in the auditorium's gallery twice shouted their opposition to the war in Iraq and threw a pink banner across the balcony.

Police removed five protestors from the auditorium and booked two for trespassing, according to San Francisco police.

But Clinton remained unruffled and continued to talk through the shouting, although at one point she remarked, raising her eyebrows, "I think I've spent more time talking to soldiers than some people have."

She defended her voting record in support of the war.

"I don't regret my vote. I regret the way he used the authority," she said, referring to the timing of the President's and the administration's discussion of Iraq at the United Nations and the subsequent invasion on Iraq.

Clinton argued against withdrawing troops before sectarian violence in Iraq has ended.

"We cannot root for failure" in a post-election Iraq, she said.

Clinton also framed her conversation about Iraq in terms of her experiences as a senator from New York, which, she said, has experienced the second-highest casualty rate of any state.

Clinton's steady criticism of the Bush administration drew ever more enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Toward the end of the evening, when she alluded to the recent controversy about the close relationships between some lobbyists and elected officials as "the real corruption," the audience erupted into hissing and loud clapping.

The evening appeared to satisfy Clinton's Bay Area supporters even after Pauley signaled an end to the conversation, as hundreds of supporters crowded the area in front of the stage, waiting excitedly as Clinton signed autographs and spoke with audience members.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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