Palestra rally ends Clinton's Pa. push

Event on campus attracts about 8,000 supporters the day before state's primary

· April 22, 2008, 5:00 am

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New York Sen. Hillary Clinton came to the Palestra last night to campaign the day before the Pennsylvania primary.


The chants at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's rally at the Palestra last night were not all that different from those at Barack Obama's Philadelphia rally last Friday.

But instead of saying "Yes We Can," the crowd in the stands cheered, "Yes She Can."

The cheer is symbolic of the way many Americans - and many Penn students - feel about Clinton.

"We all want change in Washington, but the change I want is results," said Penn for Hillary spokeswoman and former DP Spin editor Julie Siegel. "Her ability to make the same great plans and have the same great ideas and really dream big, but then figure out how to get from point A to point B . is really what brought it home for me, and what will bring it home for Penn students."

This rally in the Palestra came the night before today's influential Pennsylvania primary. The rally was Clinton's last stop before the polls open today at 7 a.m.

About 8,000 people attended the rally, according to the Clinton campaign.

Clinton was joined on stage by former President Bill Clinton, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, among others.

The most recent polls show Clinton ahead of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama by 5.9 percentage points in the state, according to RealClearPolitics averages.

Before Clinton arrived, she was introduced by her husband.

He spoke about how Hillary would be a better president than he was.

"I believe if you elect her . if we do the things we ought to do, I think we will have more prosperity than we did when I was there," Bill Clinton said.

But he also joked with audience members.

"I am about to commit candor, which is a dangerous thing for a politician," he said, to laughs from the audience. "My job is to talk until Hillary gets here."

However, Bill Clinton assured the audience that his wife would arrive soon, and several minutes later, Hillary Clinton walked onto the stage.

"Hello, Penn and hello, Philadelphia!" she said. The cheers from the audience were almost deafening as the Palestra turned into a sea of Hillary posters.

After thanking the people who introduced her, Clinton addressed the historic nature of this year's primaries.

"This is a turning-point election in the history of our country," she said.

She said America needs a president with experience in order to reverse the policies of the Bush administration.

"If there were ever any doubt about what difference a president makes, the last seven years have erased that doubt completely from America's political scene," she said. "The wealthy and well-connected have had their president, and now it's time for a president for everybody else again."

Clinton then addressed several key campaign issues including clean energy, universal health care, education and the war in Iraq.

Despite the challenges, Clinton expressed optimism about solving America's problems.

"There's only so much a president can do, but there's nothing the American people can't do," she said.

Students at the rally said they were impressed by the event, and they said the "Obamamania" among youth wouldn't overpower Clinton's influence in Pennsylvania.

"I think people are going to be very surprised," said Wharton junior Bo Finneman, a member of Penn for Hillary. "People can't count [Clinton] out."

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