Hillary Clinton Holds Economic Summit in Zanesville

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland at the economic summit in Zanesville Wednesday(Photo: Photo: Sam Hendren)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland at the economic summit in Zanesville Wednesday(Photo: Photo: Sam Hendren)

Six days before the March 4th primaries, Hillary Clinton tried to persuade Ohioans that her plans to revive the faltering U.S. economy can also resuscitate her dwindling campaign. The Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady held a round-table discussion on economic issues yesterday at Ohio University’s Zanesville campus.

It was a small, friendly audience of a few hundred people in a Zanesville gymnasium; attendance was by invitation only. But the panelists on Sen. Clinton’s Economic Solutions Summit were heavy hitters – two governors, two lieutenant governors, several business leaders and former Senator John Glenn, among others. Butch Zwelling is Zanesville’s mayor.

“Thank you for being in Zanesville, Ohio and bringing the outstanding people to this table that you have brought,” Zwelling said

Sen. Clinton did a lot of listening Wednesday. She already has a detailed plan to spur the U.S. economy. But Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher explained the state’s economic transition.

“We’re going from bicycles to bio-fuels, we’re going from gliders to turbines and lunar rockets we’re going from corn and soybeans to ethanol; we’re going from a manufacturing base to wind turbines,” Fisher said

But not fast enough, according to the governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland. Strickland emphasized to Mrs. Clinton that Ohio, as he put it, needs “jobs, jobs, jobs…”

The former first lady says her plan to produce alternative energy will create what she calls green-collar jobs. She says they’ll spill over into Ohio.

“I believe that we can create 5 million new jobs in America over the next ten years,” Clinton said.

During the summit, Gov. Strickland returned to a subject familiar to Mrs. Clinton – and a major theme of her campaign — universal health care.

“I think you are the only candidate to help us realize a Democratic dream – an American dream – since the days of Harry Truman,” Strickland said. “We’ve tried to get universal health coverage for the American people.”

In spite of the difficulties she encountered the first time, Sen. Clinton said covering the uninsured would be possible and a priority. She also said she’d rein in corporate special interests and would take back the $55 billion that she says President Bush handed out to oil, pharmaceutical, and health insurance companies.

After hearing complaints about U.S. jobs leaving the country and the growing difficulty finding American-made products, Mrs. Clinton responded:

“As we level the playing field, [we'll] eliminate every single tax break that people get for exporting jobs.”

The conference was peppered with compliments to Clinton. Here are Gov. Strickland and New Jersey’s governor Jon Corzine:

“I wouldn’t support you if I didn’t think you were the best candidate for Ohio,” Strickland said.

“I know that she’s the most qualified to be president,” said Gov. Corzine.

Weight Watchers executive Lorene Mark concluded her comments this way:

“When I think of Sen. Clinton, I think of the word “safe,” because I know she’s kind, good, smart, tough. She is brilliant, she is nurturing, she has a sympathetic, empathetic part about her who will do for the country what she’ll do for my children, my grandchildren…”

An hour went by before Clinton asked the panel for restraint.

“Well, we’re going to put a moratorium on compliments. I’m very grateful for those very kind remarks,” Clinton said.

Meanwhile, at a popular Zanesville restaurant a few miles away, Adrian Adornetto says he wonders why more Ohioans weren’t on the economic summit panel.

The round-table discussions lasted more than two hours.

Hillary Clinton is trailing rival Barack Obama in the popular vote, committed delegates and fundraising. She’s counting on dominating Ohio and Texas to keep her candidacy afloat.