HENDERSON, Nev. — In a visit to a state that treated her well earlier this year, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton allayed fears Friday about her commitment to working for the election of the presumptive Democrat nominee, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
She urged her supporters, who filled a high school gymnasium, to volunteer for Obama and support him in November. The junior senator from New York also attacked the Republicans’ presumptive nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, for not supporting recently stalled equal pay legislation for working women and for not backing an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Analysts believe Obama will need to win over Clinton supporters, and especially working class and older women. With her domestic policy attacks on McCain, Clinton did her best to help Obama on that score.
In a news conference after the appearance, Clinton said there had been no decision yet on whether her name would be put into nomination or whether there would be a roll call vote at the Democratic National Convention later this month in Denver. The two campaigns are working together to ensure the party is unified for November, she said.
Asked about former President Bill Clinton’s recent tepid statement of support for Obama, she said he will give his full support in a convention speech.
The McCain campaign used the Clinton appearance to highlight attacks Clinton used in Nevada during the caucus campaign.
Rick Gorka, a McCain spokesman, said in a statement: “We welcome Senator Clinton back to Nevada where she ran a spirited campaign against Senator Obama based on his inexperience, and we plan to defeat Obama in Nevada again on November 4th with the same message that Obama is not ready to lead.”
Clinton won the Nevada caucus — her sole caucus victory — in January, which seemed to give her momentum heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday. It was not to be for her, but her Nevada supporters came out in force on Friday, with some screaming “vice president!” from the rafters.
Looking refreshed following a respite from campaigning for 18 months, Clinton said, “Now we are all very proud and committed to be doing everything we can to elect Sen. Obama.”
She used the words “united,” “unified” and “unity” multiple times during her speech.
About McCain and President Bush, she used a signature line: “They’re two sides of the same coin, and it doesn’t add up to a whole lot of change.”
Interviews with her supporters seemed to suggest her Nevada supporters held out slim hope that she would contest Obama’s nomination at the convention. They are willing to support Obama, but only with Clinton’s order.
Eunice Ferreira is a card dealer at Mandalay Bay, the Strip casino. She volunteered for the campaign during the Nevada caucus, and said, “I want her to come back, but I don’t know what chance she has.”
Asked if she would vote for Obama, Ferreira said, “Yes. But only to support what [Clinton] says.”
J. Patrick Coolican is a political reporter for the Las Vegas Sun. The Sun and Politico are sharing content for the 2008 presidential campaign. Las Vegas Sun reporter Michael J. Mishak also contributed to this report.