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Christmas Approaching, Clinton Woos Iowa's Minority Voters

The Clintons campaign in Waterloo Sunday. (Getty).

By Anne E. Kornblut
WATERLOO, Iowa -- Black churches are not typically a mainstay of Iowa politics, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president Bill Clinton sought one out here on Sunday morning, appealing to one of the state's largest minority populations with just 11 days left until the caucuses.

Five precincts in Waterloo, with a total of 40 delegates, have significant African American populations, and the Clintons considered this pocket of the state important enough to brave stormy weather for one final visit, less than two days before Christmas. The former president also visited here days earlier.

The Clintons arrived shortly after noon, flying in from their home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and arriving after a service at Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church had begun. They were joined by Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor, and his wife, Christie; former Denver mayor Wellington Webb; and Bob Nash, a former Clinton administration official and current campaign official. The church was more than half-empty, with only a few dozen people in the pews.

Hailing Christmas as "the birth of the God of second chances," Bill Clinton introduced his wife as a "giver" and encouraged congregants to vote. He cited Romans, saying the Bible instructs people to "be good citizens as well as good followers of the Lord."

"For as long as I have known Hillary, she has been giving of herself to benefit others. I think we want that sort of giver to lead our country," Clinton said.

"In this Christmas season, I think the thing I would like to say most, after 36 years of knowing her and 32 years of marriage: we are all supposed to be givers. Day after tomorrow, we will give. But every day for 36 years she has given. And I believe, if you will make her the next president, she will be a giver to America and the world and we will be proud," Clinton said.

Sen. Clinton took the podium, declaring, "This is the day the Lord has made." She delivered an abbreviated, softer version of her standard stump speech to rousing responses from the congregation.

"This is a time, not just for those of us who run to be president but for all of us, to resolve that in this Christmas season we will be instruments of peace and change," she said. "And as we think about the choices that face us, let us remember all of those for whom we speak. Because when you go, as I hope all of you will, to participate in the caucuses Jan. 3, you will be there not just for yourselves and your families but for so many who cannot."

In her closing, Clinton said she is about to "give the people of Iowa a well-deserved timeout from politics" over the Christmas holiday. But she promised she would think of this as she went to her own church on the holiday: "I will always do my very best to make the kind of changes that will give people not just hope but results."

By Post Editor  |  December 23, 2007; 4:46 PM ET
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