Tonight Hillary Clinton sold herself in an hour-long pre-Super-Tuesday infomercial on the Hallmark channel, using a virtual town hall setting with supportive questioners from around the country as a way to deliver her positions and messages on a wide range of issues.
The hour-long question-and-answer period laid on thick the softer side of Clinton, who stood on a blue stage, wearing a red jacket, black pants and black blouse.
It was also meant to show how smart she was.
Children, celebrities and her friends and family all made cameos as she raced to get in questions from all 22 states voting in tomorrow’s election.
She got to 15 of them, often at length – and interrupted frequently by applause – then asked for the viewers’ votes. The questions she answered after that were visible only on Clinton’s Web site.
(If that sounds interesting to you, read on.)
The first question came from Kansas City, from a woman who wanted to know how to improve education. Hillary vowed to use the portion of the federal budget dedicated to education more wisely.
The second question was from a gay man from Arizona, who wanted to know how she would ensure the provision of equal benefits to same-sex couples.
"I believe it is important that we leave these decisions to the states," she said, before calling for a federal hate crimes law.
From Knoxville, she received a question from a little girl in a "Future President" shirt, who asked how to improve America’s standing in the world. Clinton answered, "I will work all the time to get a global warming agreement," and added, "We need people to want to side with America again." She said that would end up motivating people around the world to report suicide bombers before they can act.
The moderator then said, cloyingly, "Now we’re going to a biggie — we’re going to the Golden State, California."
And who was in California? It was Bill Clinton in California! The former president somberly introduced a Vietnam veteran who had, as Bill put it, "a very important question for you and for America." It was about war veterans getting proper care for their mental and physical injuries. Clinton answered at great length, promising to expand treatment and care for the increasingly common brain injuries that have resulted from bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan. She closed by saying, "Force should be used only as a last resort not a first resort."
She answered a question from Alabama about keeping jobs in America ("I’m going to be much more aggressive," she said); and from Worcester, Massachusetts, about protecting the environment ("carbon neutrality," "renewable sources" "innovation nation")
And then one from Hartford, Connecticut. "Oh there’s Chelsea!" said Hillary. "Hi, Mom!" said Chelsea, who then said something about getting emotional because her mother was so close to her heart. Anyway, the question turned out to be about health care, Clinton’s bread-and-butter issue, and her favorite place to draw a distinction with Barack Obama’s plan, which does not mandate that all Americans be covered by health care insurance.
"I am the only candidate left in this race on either side who is committed to universal health care," she said.
She answered questions from New Mexico, New York, and Illinois, where an Iranian woman wanted to know what she would do to improve the human rights of women in Iran. Clinton started by saying, "I think we should be opening negotiations with Iran. I don’t know what we could possibly get with that but we have to try.” She added, "We need more information and I think they need more information too." She noticeably avoided talking about whether the President should personally meet with the heads of antagonistic states, something Obama has said he would do, and which she took him to task for.
From New Jersey, she took a question about the war in Iraq, ("Contrary to Senator McCain who says that it would be fine with him if we were to stay there for 100 years, it would not be fine with me") from Utah a question about immigration ("we must have tougher border security,") from Minnesota a question about infrastructure ("tougher standards in place for maintenance") and then back to California, this time Los Angeles, for another education question. A guy from Georgia asked about the conservation of water recourses ("I intend to really convene a water summit")
With time running out, Clinton made her pitch.
"I hope you will go out tomorrow and vote," she said, adding "Together there isn’t any problem we cannot solve."