Clinton returns to upstate N.Y.

From the Associated Press

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a clear message to her constituents Wednesday: I love New York.

Nearly a month after her historic bid for the presidency came to a disappointing end, Clinton returned to upstate New York and focused on local concerns -- weather-beaten apples, green power and the state’s downtrodden economy.

Along the way, crowds greeted her with standing ovations and chants of “Hillary! Hillary!”


“We find her inspiring,” said Sister Joan Sauro of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Syracuse, who was carrying a 2000 Clinton for Senate campaign poster that Clinton had just signed. “What they say about her grace and grit is true. I’m heartbroken that she pulled out of the race . . . but that means we in New York have her back.”

Clinton had been a frequent visitor to upstate New York before the demands of her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, and she was a regular at the New York State Fair in Syracuse every August. Her most recent trip upstate was in March to attend Gov. David Paterson’s inauguration in Albany.

“It’s wonderful. It is so wonderful. It was the only part of campaigning that was kind of challenging. I really missed New York,” Clinton said. “I missed actually, physically being in the state and having a chance to see my friends and see a lot of what I care about around the state. So I’m back doing work that I love, and I feel very good about what we are going to be able to accomplish.”

As many as 500 people gathered in Hanover Square in downtown Syracuse to see Clinton, who suspended her campaign last month after Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination.

“Looking around the square, it feels like a family reunion; I see so many familiar faces,” Clinton said to a standing ovation.

During her two-hour visit in Syracuse, Clinton met with Mayor Matt Driscoll, representatives of several green businesses and alternative energy firms, and officials from the region’s colleges and universities, who gave her a briefing and demonstrated some of the technologies being researched and developed in the area.

Later Wednesday, she visited a fruit farm outside Newark, in Ontario County, and chatted with a dozen fruit growers who were badly hit by last month’s hailstorms. She talked about getting a federal disaster declaration for the 23 New York counties that suffered damage.

In the Finger Lakes community of Geneva, a loud, enthusiastic crowd of at least 200 at a fruit store renewed the “Hillary!” chants and thanked her for the presidential run.

Patricia Richer-Petrie, 37, an unemployed teacher from nearby Potter, in Yates County, carried a placard reading: “Dems Unite! We love Hillary. Obama ’08.”

Some in the crowd weren’t so quick to urge unity.

“I wouldn’t vote for Obama unless Hillary’s on the ticket,” said Andrea Stone, 57, a piano tuner from Sodus.

Clinton was to finish her upstate swing in Buffalo.