At a Houston rally, Hillary Clinton is talking about health care. She is massaging her core supporters in Texas, who for her are working class white and Hispanic women. This is a rally, the "big event later in the week" she had promised a roomful of Houston fans last Saturday night. Clinton is late to the Delmar Field House, but at first her supporters don't mind. Many have brought their husbands; many have brought their daughters, even though it is a school night. They are enjoying the mariachi band, singing along with "La Bamba." They are applauding the extraordinary talent of the young drummer--he might be eight years old--in the Umani School jazz band. Barack Obama would like being here and hearing the musicians, who are poster children for the grade school music programs he talks about. Indeed Hillary Clinton, who deep inside has an earthy sense of humor, would've appreciated the town hall and the old school ladies of Beaumont. Hillary has been enjoying herself in Texas. She's happy and buoyant with her supporters in a way she never showed in Iowa, Nevada or California. Somewhere along the Rio Grande Hillary Clinton has found her inner Ann Richards, or at least her inner Annie Oakley.
"I'm going to get up every day and ask, what am I going to do to help you?" she begins. "It's all about the future. It's all about the American dream." It's about the "millions of clean energy jobs right here in Texas" that, from the vibrancy in her voice, she can almost taste.
A few minutes later, she moves on to the space program. "And let's continue to look toward the stars. Houston is the center of space exploration. We need a president who wants to keep sending Americans into space. . . . That's one difference between me and my opponent. I want Houston to remain the capital of the space program. I don't want to be sending Americans into space on a Chinese or a Russian manned vehicle." If her supporters think this is an odd remark, they clap and ululate nevertheless.
Already, however, people are beginning to leave. In the way of this campaign, Clinton and her staff seem never to have thought all the way through the lives of key supporters. These working class women have children to put to bed and jobs to get up early for in the morning. The campaign didn't think about this reality, apparently, when it scheduled the rally so late for a Thursday night. Clinton didn't begin speaking until ten o'clock. The crowd at its peak filled the stands of the arena (holding maybe eight to ten thousand) only three-quarters full. Where are the subscribers to Emily's List? Houston must have some. Where are the Texas women lawyers, doctors, university professors and executives who supposedly support her here? Where are the female movers and shakers--and some of them are Democrats--in this town? Obama had his share last week at the Toyota Center. But like the Hollywood luminaries and the party leaders, these erstwhile Clintonites are not putting themselves out for her now.