- One of the women in the audience asked the question that's been asked of every politician I've come to see,"what will you do to help legal immigrants on H1-Bs". Most other speakers have just answered, "we'll raise the number of visas we grant" and left it at that. Instead Clinton took the opportunity to discuss her policy for illegal and legal immigration. You can read about her thoughts on her website, but what I thought was really interesting was that she pointed out that 10 years ago, people weren't freaking out about illegal immigrants. They were too busy going to work and living their lives. It's now, when the economy isn't doing well, and healthcare is not affordable, and it costs enormous amounts to send your kid to college, that people are concerned, and she says that it's because certain politicians took advantage of this to say, "pay no attention to the poor government policies that got us here, blame the immigrants instead!" Clinton says that what we have to do is work on policies that make people feel secure about their lives, and then the politicizing of the immigration debate minimize and we'll be able to concentrate on helping the illegal immigrants and enticing educated legal immigrants to our country.
- At one point she spoke about our budget deficits, and she made a great point about how owing enormous amounts of money is not only bad from a basic budget perspective, but from a foreign policy perspective. She said that when her husband was president, China massed on the border of Taiwan. Bill sent in a fleet to the South China Sea and China pulled back. Today if the same thing were to happen, China could simply say, "if you don't remove your fleet we'll start dumping dollars". It was one of the first concrete examples I've seen of problems caused by our government's over-extended finances (aside from the prices J and I had to deal with in London!)
- Someone asked her how she'd win in Middle America, which is a fair question. She talked about what she'd done when running for Senator in New York. Rather than focusing on areas that were highly Democratic already, she went to very Republican areas to work on reducing her margin of loss. She talked about talking to craftspeople in upstate NY who lived in towns too small to support a marketplace for their goods, and how she worked with EBay to put together an online marketplace for them. Of the 20 people in that town, 5 couldn't figure out how to make it work and gave up, but 5 did extremely well...and those people were more liable to vote for her. She said efforts like that are the reason she won by 55% her first election but by 67% the second time around. And she also said that's what Kerry did wrong - he focused on places like Reno and Las Vegas in Nevada where he already had huge support and could hold rallies that looked good on TV, but he lost in the rural areas that Bush and Cheney visited regularly.
- Finally, I was also impressed by all her local references. She must give multiple speeches a day all around the country, but she included multiple references to the Seattle area, and did it in a really natural way that made it clear that she'd just absorbed the information rather than having some staff member add bits to specific areas of her speech. She mentioned a book our local congressman had written on the environment, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation on healthcare, and even mentioned a recent product our company had released (actually the product on which my friend B's husband has been working his butt off!). I appreciated the amount of preparation she must have done.
Overall, it was an inspiring hour, and I just wish I could remember all the details. Between the gorgeous changing leaves outside and the candidates coming just to see us, I can pretty much pretend I'm in New Hampshire!