Senator-elect First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton greeted nearly 200 supporters in Ithaca on Friday at the Tompkins County Airport Taughannock Aviation Hanger as part of her one-day victory tour of Upstate New York.
Amidst a cheering crowd that showed up to celebrate her win over Rep. Rick A. Lazio (N.Y.-2nd), Clinton singled out Tompkins County for the help that its citizens provided throughout her campaign.
“When we were talking about coming back Upstate to fly around and thank everybody, I knew that I couldn’t get everywhere just because I’d run out of daylight, but I knew that I wanted to get to Tompkins County because I know how hard [you] worked,” Clinton said.
Tompkins County — the last stop on a tour that included the six Upstate cities of Albany, Syracuse, Watertown, Rochester, Buffalo and Ithaca — was a Democratic stronghold in an Upstate area that traditionally votes Republican.
But Clinton wanted to downplay the partisan aspect on Friday. Her tour instead focused on expressing thanks to supporters as well as setting a cooperative tone across party lines to address upstate issues.
In a short speech that she gave before the crowd, Clinton indicated that she plans to “get right to business” and top on her list of priorities is improving economic aid for upstate New York.
After speaking with several economic experts from Cornell on the subject, Clinton said that she aims to boost job growth, help farmers and promote tourism, namely through targeted tax cuts and credit.
The basic problem, according to Clinton, is that although we have tremendous academic resources, many trained scientists, engineers and others wind up leaving upstate New York. “We don’t translate a lot of the discoveries in laboratories to jobs on the factory floor,” she said.
As other areas of focus for upstate regions, Clinton mentioned wanting to improve funding for transportation, education, health care and the environment.
Clinton had already caught the public’s attention earlier in the day when she called for the elimination of the Electoral College during her stop in Albany.
Although she side-stepped going into specific details about the national election, Clinton mentioned that she felt a vote check in Florida was appropriate “to see the will of the people manifested.”
“This is an important issue for the country to discuss,” Clinton said, adding that she is requesting “a national conversation” so that every point of view can be heard. “This is not something that is going to happen overnight,” she said.
As Clinton emphasized her dedication to all parts of New York, Michael Moschella ’02, president of the Cornell Democrats, interpreted her call for the abolition of the Electoral College as a sign that she will continue to be involved at the national level.
“It’s an exciting time. New York is the major league for politics and Hillary is a major league senator,” Moschella said, noting that Clinton’s victory makes history as the first time that a woman has been elected to the U.S. Senate from New York and the first time that a First Lady has been elected into public office.
Many supporters who showed up to greet Clinton interpreted her appearance as a symbol of how active she plans to be in office.
“This is a small airport and for her to step down here makes me feel more secure,” said Brian Goodell, who helped with Clinton’s campaign in Ithaca.
Noting that Friday marked Clinton’s fifth recent visit to Tompkins County, he added, “Some candidates get in office and you never see them again. It makes me feel reassured that not all of my work was in vain.”
“It’s just the class she has,” said Tompkins County Judge-elect John C. Rowley, describing Clinton’s efforts to fly down from the White House for one-day to thank everybody.
After her speech, Clinton spent the rest of her time before the crowd thanking people by first names, shaking hands with babies and children and conversing with her supporters.
Clinton’s personal appeal was something that inspired Pat Pryor, co-chair for the Hillary Campaign in Tompkins County, to become active in the campaign last spring.
“[Mrs. Clinton] is so warm and so knowledgeable. She listens well, asks good questions and wants to know the issues people care about,” Pryor said.
Melissa Gorczynski ’01, who voted for Lazio, said, “While I was originally opposed [to Clinton becoming senator] — because I feel like she is using this election as a stepping stone to a possible presidential election — I now realize that she may do a lot of good for Upstate New York because everyone is watching her to see if she’ll deliver results.”
Archived article by Jennifer Roberts