If Sen. Hillary Clinton had unveiled a plan to deport the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States, Susan Woodall would have been even happier about having driven 90 minutes from Pahrump to Las Vegas to attend an appearance Wednesday by the Democratic presidential candidate.
"I like the fact that she talked about strengthening the borders and really fining employers who hire illegals," Woodall, 70, said after Clinton’s town hall-style meeting at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas. "But I wish she could come up with sending the illegal aliens back to Mexico. I know it can’t be easy. But that’s why she’s running for president and I’m not."
Clinton’s noon appearance in the packed high school gym — she answered questions on issues that ranged from the war in Iraq to health care — followed an earlier campaign stop at the Culinary union. There, in addition to touching on social and economic issues that affect the nation, the candidate backed the union in its effort to win new contracts with gaming companies.
In an interview with the Review-Journal after her Las Vegas Valley appearances, Clinton, D-N.Y., said easy answers are particularly hard to come by on immigration.
"Those who say we should just round them up and deport them, I’d like to know how they intend to do that," Clinton said, adding that Americans face a moral and social challenge in dealing with the people who now work and live in the United States.
To tighten the borders, Clinton advocates more personnel along the border and the "use of new forms of radar and unmanned aerial vehicles."
"We must send a very strong message, or otherwise we’ll be right back where we are in 20 years," she said.
Fines, she said, "definitely have to be stiffened on employers."
"People wouldn’t come into this country if there weren’t any jobs," she said.
Clinton said communities should be given financial help from the federal government when medical and educational resources are used on illegal immigrants. And the federal government should find ways to help strengthen foreign countries economically so that people there won’t feel the need to come to the United States.
At the Culinary union event, Hilary Wrona, a 45-year-old casino employee who emigrated from Poland, asked Clinton about legislation recently approved by the Senate. That reform bill would require immigrant workers to return home for a time as they try to gain permanent legal residency or citizenship.
"It’s just so impractical," Wrona said, adding that he believes it could never be enforced.
"The practicality of that is in question," Clinton told the Review-Journal. "It will be debated."
Susan Jones-Davis, who drove her cousin Woodall to Las Vegas from Pahrump, appreciated Clinton’s desire to end the war in Iraq.
One of her sons has already served in Iraq. Another is slated to go Monday.
If President Bush doesn’t end the war during his remaining time in office, Clinton said, she’ll do it as soon as possible after she becomes president.
"As soon as the statue (of Saddam Hussein) was knocked down, we should have left," Jones-Davis said.
At both the union hall and the high school, Clinton received rousing ovations. Later, she was ebullient about the receptions. "It was just terrific," she said.
At Canyon Springs, Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, who is serving as the Clinton campaign’s Nevada chair, introduced former Gov. Bob Miller as the new co-chair of the campaign’s national Governors Council.
Miller said Wednesday that Clinton listens, thinks and then acts.
Bush, he said to laughter and loud applause, has forgotten to "do the first two."
The issue of economic fairness was brought up again and again at both the union hall and high school — by both Clinton and the audience.
Frank Gaskill, a 47-year-old maintenance man at the union local, said "everybody should pay an even share of taxes — the wealthy shouldn’t pay less. I think Clinton understands that."
Clinton told union members that over the past 30 years, the pay of chief executives has gone from 25 times that of the lowest person in a company to 262 times more.
"Inequality is growing," she said. "CEOs are doing extremely well."
At both campaign stops, Clinton said it is time that equitable health care be available to everyone.
Too many people, she said, are either uninsured or incapable of dealing financially with a major illness even with insurance.
"Our system is not working," she said.
A recent Review-Journal poll of registered voters shows Nevada Democrats want Clinton to be their presidential nominee. That poll, released in early May, showed Clinton would get 37 percent of the vote in a Democratic caucus. John Edwards (13 percent) and Barack Obama (12 percent) came in second and third respectively.
Not everybody was necessarily judging Clinton solely by her stands on issues.
At Canyon Springs High School, Clinton’s marriage was talked about repeatedly in hushed tones by members of the audience.
"I think she set a bad example for young girls by staying in a marriage where her husband cheated on her," said Curtis Keene, a 52-year-old paralegal.
Woodall, however, believes Clinton’s willingness to stay with her husband after the Monica Lewinsky affair shows strength.
"She stood by her man," she said.Clinton says jet travel complied with rules Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said Wednesday that she followed all Senate rules when she accepted rides on a private jet from a longtime benefactor. “Whatever I’ve done, I complied with Senate rules at the time,” Clinton said during an interview in Las Vegas. The travel and consulting fees paid to Clinton’s husband have come to light recently in a lawsuit against Vinod Gupta, a Clinton contributor and chief executive of the data company, InfoUSA. The lawsuit by company shareholders accuses Gupta of excessively spending millions of dollars, including $900,000 worth of travel on the Clintons. Sen. Clinton, who complained about corporate largesse and skyrocketing executive pay during campaign events Wednesday, said she did not believe her message was undermined by her acceptance of the private flights. In line with Senate rules then in effect, Clinton reimbursed Gupta at the cost of a first-class flight, typically a significant discount off the expense of a private jet. “Those were the rules. You’ll have to ask somebody else whether that’s good policy,” she said. The Senate earlier this year voted to change the rules to require senators, their staff and candidates for federal office to pay the charter rate for flights on corporate jets. All of the presidential candidates serving in the Senate voted for the change. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS