Hillary Clinton was at Alltel Arena tonight, looking and sounding very presidential before an adoring crowd that covered the floor and about one-third of the nosebleed seats up in the stands. The occassion was the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, thrown by the Democratic Party of Arkansas. Rising to the central stage to welcome Hillary back to the state were Governor Mike Beebe, U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, and U.S. Reps Marion Berry, Vic Snyder and Mike Ross.
The former first lady and U.S. Senator from New York managed to bring the crowd to its feet several times during her speech, touching on issues such as global warming and the possibility of "green collar" jobs that could result, fixing "No Child Left Behind," extricating U.S. combat troops from the growing civil war in Iraq, and the burden of student loans.
Perhaps making a preemptive strike in advance of the debut of filmmaker Michael Moore's new documentary "Sicko" -- which takes the health insurance industry and politicans to task for the fact that the U.S. is still the only western industrialized nation without free access to health care (Moore also criticises Clinton for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from tinsurance lobbists) -- Candidate Clinton pledged to revisit her quest for affordable health care for all Americans if elected, calling it a goal the country should set together and comparable to JFK's challenge to put a man on the moon and LBJ's commitment to Civiil Rights for all.
In closing, Clinton said that that the presidency of George W. Bush has "squandered the goodwill of 9/11," and made enemies of countries that once aspired to be more like the United States. "I want to be the president who restores that feeling about our country around the world again," she said. "More importantly, I want us to feel that way about ourselves again."