Politics & Government

Clinton takes hard line on China in final N.C. pass

GREENVILLE — Hillary Clinton began her final push in the Tar Heel state in Greenville and High Point on Monday, offering veiled criticism of her Democratic opponent.

"You don't hire a president to make speeches," Clinton said. "You hire a president to solve problems."

She gave her usual stump speech some last-day-of-campaigning fire, her voice hoarse but her audience full of enthusiastic supporters who shouted and applauded with just about every line.

She talked of how she would offer the same health care that members of Congress receive to every citizen in the country. She talked of herself as a commander-in-chief, saying she would end the war in Iraq and take care of veterans.

And she not-so-subtly reminded voters that she's the candidate who has spent time in the White House, talking of her work with former President Bill Clinton and of how he left office with a budget surplus.

"Those of you who are undecided, I hope I'll be able to persuade you and earn your vote," Clinton said.

In High Point later, she called for renegotiating trade agreements. She singled out China, accusing the country of manipulating its currency, unfairly subsidizing its domestic companies and overlooking counterfeiting.

"I will get tough on China because what they are doing is not right," Clinton said.

Many of the thousands of North Carolina furniture jobs lost in the last decade have gone to China and other Asian countries, where labor costs are also lower.

Introducing Clinton, Gov. Mike Easley talked about the same theme.

"I don't know about the rest of the candidates, but Hillary Clinton is not ready to surrender America's economy to China just yet," he said.

Their comments came at a downtown train depot, where about 200 people stood on a platform above the tracks. Freight trains interrupted both Clinton and Easley, and both made light of the setting. "This lady is strong as train smoke," Easley said.

Furniture showrooms dot the streets around the train depot, a fact that wasn't lost on Clinton.

"I've always wanted to come to High Point," she said, "and I always wanted to go in and out of all these stores."