Jane Gardner went to the dinner with Hillary in Jackson last night and sends this report.
Last night I attended the Jefferson Jackson Hamer Day Dinner in Canton Mississippi where Hillary Clinton spoke to an estimated 2,000 Democrats. I was amazed at her poised patience, standing there with hundreds surrounding her for autographs and pictures as she made her way into the room, but it didn’t seem to faze her, she smiled and chatted with each one.
It must have taken 20 minutes before she eased toward the podium with the bucking donkey emblem in the background, appropriate since the Canton Multipurpose and Equine Center is used for rodeos (they covered the dirt floor with carpeting for the event). She then had to stand another 10 to 15 minutes while others spoke at the podium, but she never looked exasperated, just the opposite, she seemed eager and excited to be there.
Senator Clinton spoke to the people of Mississippi last night. This was not a pat speech; she spoke without notes, from the heart for about 30 to 40 minutes. She spoke of the blues originating from Mississippi, as well as rock and roll. She joked that her husband Bill expects to see Elvis the next day in Tupelo, where he’s attending a fish-fry. She talked about the many attributes Mississippians have made to the world, from our writers to our scientists; she spoke of the first heart transplant performed in our state, and of our sports heroes, and she said: “One just recently retired.” We knew she meant the great, Brett Farve.
Clinton spoke of ending the “No Child Left Behind” program started by the Bush administration. She reminded us that she was instrumental in starting the Children’s Healthcare Program, which we have in Mississippi, and she will ask Congress to expand this program; George Bush has vetoed this twice, she said. Clinton said she would end child hunger by 2012 if elected president.
She would end our dependency on oil by creating “green” jobs and many of these jobs could be in Mississippi. She said health care is a “moral right” and she will bring health care to rural areas in Mississippi.
Clinton received huge applause when she criticized Bush’s handling of Katrina saying: “I’ll do whatever I can to make up for lost time as your President.” She assured the cheering crowd that she would put into place a proper emergency response program.
I was already a fervent Hillary supporter, but after hearing her speak with such passion, hope, dignity and intelligence last night, I am in awe. I am in awe of her strength and energy; her steadfastness. You would never know she has been plowing away at this for months, day after day, in a different town, and many had counted her out, but because of the sheer belief in herself, knowing she can do what is best for the American people, she seems to be gaining strength as her competitor grows weary. Her voice is stronger than ever; this is the fortitude we need in the White House. I got the feeling she was just getting started and I can promise you that at 6:00AM this Friday morning, she was buckled, belted, buttoned, and coifed, at point, and happy to be on her way to Hattiesburg, to speak to more Mississippians at 8:30AM.
Sometimes you just know in your heart and gut, what is right, you feel it; it’s certain; it’s clear; it’s the universe agreeing with you and there is no question. Hillary is the right choice, not only for our country, but for the world. I worry we will let this opportunity, to make things better for all of us and our country, slip through our fingers, for instead, something that may appear shiny and new for the moment; maybe it’s going with whomever we think the cool kids are at the moment, but like I told my 22 year old son, “You’re just going to have to trust me on this; I know it’s the right thing to do and I know it’s the best thing for our country and for your future.