Sen. Clinton returns to campaign in South Dakotaby Cara Hetland, Minnesota Public Radio
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton visited South Dakota Friday. The state will hold one of the last two primaries on June 3.
The visit caused a flap over comments Clinton made to the editorial board of South Dakota's largest newspaper.
In the first of her appearances, Clinton spoke to about 300 invited supporters at a suburban Sioux Falls grocery store before heading to Brookings for an evening rally.
Brandon, S.D. — The racks of bananas and weekly specials in the produce section of Sunshine Foods, were replaced with 200 blue folding chairs.
The locally-owned grocery stayed open to shoppers. But if they wanted pickles, salad dressing, fresh produce, bakery goods or even access to the restroom, they'd have to wait until after the former first lady left.
The event was by invitation only, yet some shoppers hoped to get a look at Hillary Clinton.
A woman and her two grand-daughters peeked around a display of Rice Crispy cereal boxes. Betty, who would only give her first name, says she's a registered Republican but supports Clinton.
"Well, for the economy and her view on Iraq," she explained. "I'm also concerned about social security how that's going to especially being a senior citizen."
71-year-old Betty says she doesn't want Clinton to step out of the race until after the last states vote.
"Everybody's vote, everybody's voice should be heard in this," she said.
The crowd was made up of Clinton campaign workers, big donors and local elected democratic officials.
Clinton talked about the economy and how the government needs to be fiscally responsible just like the average American shopper.
After her speech she took questions from the audience. One man wanted a guarantee.
"Would you promise us that no matter what happens between now and June 3rd that you would fight it out on the convention floor?" he asked.
Clinton didn't make that promise. She says it's more important for the Democratic party to be united.
"We've got to come together in order to defeat John McCain. I believe I'm the stronger candidate to do that which is why I get up every day and keep going every day," Clinton said. "But at some point, and I don't know where that point will be, at some point we will have resolved and I know that whoever the nominee is, we are going to be united."
Clinton told supporters she has more popular votes than her opponent Barack Obama. Which prompted another question from a woman in the audience.
"When I hear on the news that you're ahead in the popular vote it absolutely gives me chills," she said. "Because I think of Gore/Bush and look who is our president now. I want to know what we can do as your supporters to reach to the super delegates because they make such a difference."
Clinton says the process presidential election process needs change, but for now the current process must be respected.
She encouraged her South Dakota supporters to call their friends.
"That could influence the vote here. I don't know exactly how many people will vote here," Clinton said. "It's not a huge electorate like other states. So you will know just from the people you know a significant percentage of people who will vote on June 3rd."
This is Clinton's third campaign appearance in South Dakota in the last two weeks. She's scheduled to come again next week.
Before the grocery store appearance, Clinton met with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board.
Responding to calls that she drop out of the race, she said her husband didn't wrap up his 1992 nomination until the middle of June and mentioned to the editorial writers that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June.
Later Clinton apologized for her comments saying she didn't intend to remind the nation of a moment of trauma.
In the same editorial board meeting Clinton denied rumors that she is having conversations about becoming Barack Obama's vice-presidential candidate.
Obama has an almost 200-delegate lead over Clinton and is 56 delegates short of the number needed to clinch the nomination.
- All Things Considered, 05/23/2008, 5:54 p.m.