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Clinton Working for Texas Votes

Laredoans turned out Thursday, Feb. 20, to see Democratic presidental candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as she campaigned in Texas for the March 4 primary election. (AP)

By Anne E. Kornblut and Jonathan Weisman
AUSTIN -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had called for more debates, and the setting on Thursday night seemed, at first blush, likely to work in her favor: She has long ties to Texas and a strong base of support among Hispanics in the state.

But as she campaigned in South Texas on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Clinton drew relatively modest crowds that suggested she still may have work to do. She began including operational instructions in her campaign stump speech -- directing voters to a Texas phone number for instructions on early voting, repeating her web site in order to boost donations.

Both in her speeches and in her television advertising, Clinton is emphasizing the importance of "work" -- a word that has become a pillar of her campaign.

"There's a lot of work to be done here at home, and there's a lot of work to be done around the world," Clinton told a largely Hispanic crowd gathered outside in Laredo, a rustic border town, on Thursday morning.

"This election coming up is an opportunity for you to decide who you want to hire for the hardest job in the world," she continued. "The choice you make is really critical. I want you to think who you want to have in the White House, answering the phone at 3 o'clock in the morning when a crisis breaks out somewhere in the world. I want you to think, who can best manage our economy so it works for everyone again? I want you to think, who is best prepared to be commander in chief on day one?"

Even on the subject of immigration -- on which she has shifted her emphasis during the Texas campaign, to focus on the need for amnesty rather than securing the borders -- she talked about "work." "We need secure borders but we also need a path to legalization for those who have worked hard," Clinton said, drawing cheers. She flew to Austin at midday before the debate, and will continue on to Dallas and Houston on Friday before returning to Ohio on Friday night.

The last time such a crush of political operatives and reporters descended on Austin was during the 2000 recount, and the town was dominated by Republicans. Feeling ascendant, Democrats took all of the downtown hotels, and debate tickets were selling for thousands of dollars on eBay.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 21, 2008; 7:59 PM ET
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