Pittsburgh, PA--At an event billed "Hot Dogs with Hillary," it was inevitable that an animal reference would pop up, after all, this campaign has been hounded by pit bulls and pigs plastered with lip stick.
Hillary Clinton obliged the crowd of 1,000 senior citizens and union members in Pittsburgh on Friday. The group of Hillary fans and Barack Obama backers relished her reference to John McCain as a dog.
Clinton pointed out that McCain had voted with President George W. Bush 90 percent of the time. The country should reject him because, she said, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks."
Clinton was there to urge her Pennsylvania supporters to not only vote for Obama, but also to persuade their family members, friends and neighbors to do it. The event, held in the Westin Convention Center Hotel, was organized by the Alliance for Retired Americans and sponsored by the United Steelworkers, AFSCME and the AFL-CIO.
The audience was primed for Hillary with boxed lunches, including those promised hot dogs, and rousing - and short - speeches by labor and political leaders, including United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard and Hillary's chief Pennsylvania supporter during the primaries, Gov. Ed Rendell.
Dan Onorato, the chief executive of Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, told the crowd that pundits insulted them by suggesting those who voted for Hillary would cast ballots for McCain. He said he was eager for Nov. 5: "I can't wait to tell the pundits they were wrong. This is not a swing state. This is a blue state!"
Gerard challenged the group to name one thing that McCain has done in his 26 years in the Senate that has helped them or their families. Silence followed for a few seconds, then shouts of, "Nothing!"
"Your silence speaks for itself," Gerard said, then asked, "Why is this election even close?"
AFL-CIO president John Sweeney brought up an issue close to the hearts of many in the crowd: Social Security. He asked them to imagine what would have happened over the past couple of weeks if Social Security had been privatized, as Bush, McCain and Palin wanted, and part of the money invested in the stock market. "They are the only three who still think it is a good idea," he told the group to a chorus of boos.
Clinton told the crowd that as she travels the country stumping for Obama, many people still ask her, "Who are you for?"
That is not the correct question, she said. What people should be asking, she said, is: "Who is for you?"
The person is Barack Obama, she assured them.
She made many of her supporters feel good about backing Obama. Among them were Emma and Bernard McLaughlin of McKeesport. Emma, 75, and Bernard, 80, a steelworker who lost his job when LTV when bankrupt, still think Hillary's the best candidate, but both said they'd be voting for Obama in November. "We're Democrats. We support the ideals," she explained.
But it was too late for Lois Velliky, 83, of Jefferson Hills. She said she'd already written Hillary's name on her absentee ballot.