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The Nation

Clinton rallies the faithful in downtown L.A.

The senator asks her fans to back Obama and get out the vote for party members running for Congress.

October 04, 2008|Kate Linthicum | Times Staff Writer

Hillary Rodham Clinton met Friday with some of her most devoted supporters in Los Angeles to urge them to back former rival Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

About 60 loyalists crowded into a Mexican restaurant on Olvera Street to see the New York senator, who beat Obama in California's Democratic primary in February. She also asked them to campaign for Democrats who are running for Congress.

"I mostly wanted to come to say thank you and to encourage you to do everything you can between now and election day to register voters, to make sure everybody knows what's at stake in this election and then to help turn everybody out," Clinton told the crowd. "I just have a feeling this is going to be a great Democratic year."

Clinton spoke for less than 10 minutes, but that didn't seem to bother the audience.

"Whatever she says, that's exactly what we'll do," said Lillian Gonzales, 76, of the Mark Twain Democratic Club in Whittier.

Between bites of taquitos and guacamole, Gonzales explained that she had switched her allegiance to Obama as soon as Clinton conceded the race in June. Now, she said, her task is to persuade her friends who are leery of Obama to do the same.

In a brief news conference after her speech, Clinton brushed off questions about whether some supporters, still bitter from her loss to Obama, might vote for the Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

"I think that people who supported me have much more in common with Sen. Obama and his agenda than with Sen. McCain," she said.

She predicted that the nation's rocky economy would help Obama's chances in November.

"As the real stakes of the election become clearer, you're going to see Obama gain across the country," Clinton said. "As more and more people look at what is being offered, I'm just really confident that we're going to win."

Clinton will speak tonight at an "Angelenos Go Green for Obama" fundraiser in downtown Los Angeles at the Edison, a power-plant-turned-swanky-lounge.

Organizers say the event, powered by biodiesel generators and featuring compostable plates and flatware, will be the first zero-waste and carbon-neutral political fundraiser.

Actors William Baldwin, Catherine Keener and Meg Ryan will attend, and Jon Bon Jovi will entertain.

Clinton won about 18 million votes in the hard-fought Democratic primaries. In the months since she dropped out, she has actively campaigned for Obama.

In her speech Friday, she talked up her latest initiative, which aims to convert her supporters into a pro-Obama network called Hillary Sent Me!

The program, organized by Clinton's political action committee, HillPac, in conjunction with the Obama campaign, mobilizes volunteers to travel to battleground states to help Democrats with their grass-roots organizing.

This weekend, it urged volunteers to travel to Ohio -- a key swing state -- to canvass for Obama.

The weekend after that, it will push volunteers to work in Pennsylvania.

Many Clintonites at Friday's event said they were busy organizing for Obama. Barbara Douglass, 86, the president of the Democratic Women's Study Club in Long Beach, said her organization was making phone calls for Obama.

She said it wasn't always easy supporting Clinton's former rival, but she was doing it because it's what Clinton wants. "I was brokenhearted when she lost," Douglass said. "I'm going to vote for Obama, but not with the same thrill."

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kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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