One of the two Democratic frontrunners seeking the presidential nomination made a stop in South Texas last week.
U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, made an appearance Feb. 13 during a campaign rally at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown. An estimated 7,500 supporters were on hand to show their support for the former First Lady.
A line began to form at the fairgrounds more than five hours before doors opened to the Central Pavilion Arena. By 11 a.m., the line had begun snaking around the parking lot adjacent to the fairgrounds' entrance.
Clinton's flight arrived at the Corpus Christi International Airport at about 1 p.m., after which she made her way to the fairgrounds accompanied by a police escort. She took the stage at 1:52 p.m. to loud chants of "Hillary! Hillary!" where she was introduced by U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi.
Clinton said she worked in South Texas about 36 years ago as a student volunteer for the Democratic Party to register voters in the area.
"I know where South Texas is. I have been to South Texas," Clinton said.
The former First Lady's speech focused on a broad range of issues, from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the economy, but she briefly touched on her universal healthcare plan and what she claims is a lack of medical care currently being offered to veterans.
"There is no doubt that America wants to help its veterans," Clinton said. "We just haven't had an administration who wants to fund the (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)."
Clinton also mentioned the housing crisis in her speech, as well as the sluggish economy. President George W. Bush signed an economic stimulus bill last week that will put about $152 billion back into the hands of taxpayers in hopes of avoiding a recession.
Clinton said rivals of the United States, such as China and Iran, have become emboldened by the struggles of America's economy.
"They all think they have the advantage because of the failures of (George W. Bush)," the former First Lady said.
Immigration reform was also a topic brought up by the senator from New York, who said there should be harsher penalties against employers who hire undocumented workers.
"We need to be smarter and tougher on immigration," Clinton said.
Clinton also talked about ending what she called the "unfunded mandate" known as No Child Left Behind, which was passed in 2001 and has been championed by the president as an educational necessity.
Clinton has said at previous rallies that she is opposed to the NCLB Act and would replace it with a plan that would include teacher incentives and more money for special education. Her principal opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has also previously voiced his opposition the NCLB Act.
"You should listen to teachers," Clinton said. "They're in the classrooms."
The former First Lady also took a moment to take a shot at the experience of her Democratic rival from Illinois.
"If you have someone who says, 'Well, what's the difference between Senator Clinton and her opponent?'" Clinton said. "Well, about 35 years of experience."
"My opponent offers promises, I offer solutions," she added.
Clinton's speech lasted for about 30 minutes, but she remained on-stage to sign autographs and pose for pictures with students who were in attendance. Clinton then spoke briefly with about 3,500 supporters in the overflow room next to the Central Pavilion Arena before leaving the fairgrounds around 3 p.m.
Lauren Levinson, press secretary for Sen. Clinton's campaign, said Monday the decision to come to Robstown was based on the strength of supporters in Nueces County.
"Senator Clinton has a strong base of support in Nueces County and throughout South Texas, and she received an enthusiastic response in Robstown last week," Levinson said. "The fairgrounds was selected because it was large enough to accommodate the anticipated crowd."
At the beginning of the rally, Robstown Mayor Rodrigo Ramon Jr. presented Clinton with a key to the city. Television personality and Robstown native Johnny Canales was the master of ceremonies for the event, which featured performances by Paula Deanda and Jimmy Gonzalez y Grupo Mazz.
More than 4,000 Clinton supporters packed into the Central Pavilion Arena, in addition to the 3,500 in the overflow room.
Clinton's principal Democratic opponent, Obama, will make a stop Friday in Corpus Christi, although no location had been released as of press time Tuesday.