Clinton: Campaigns have broken barriers

April 18, 2008 8:59:16 PM PDT
Hillary Rodham Clinton put aside her differences with her Democratic presidential rival Friday night, saying both she and Barack Obama have been inspirations for every American child to believe he or she can be president. Appearing at Wake Forest University with poet Maya Angelou, Clinton said the 2008 presidential campaign is helping the country in "letting go of not only the heavy burden of ignorance, but of prejudice and discrimination, sexism as well as racism."

"What is exciting - and for me humbling - is that this contest that I'm engaged in with Senator Obama exemplifies that," she said. "And because of what we are doing, I honestly believe we have broken one of those invisible barriers that never again will any little boy or girl in America not believe that he or she - black, white, brown, whatever - cannot grow up to be president. Because that is now over. We have created that possibility in this moment of time."

Angelou has known Clinton since she was first lady of Arkansas and delivered a poem at Bill Clinton's first inauguration. She is backing Clinton, but also spoke warmly of Obama, and Clinton dropped any criticisms of her opponent for the evening at the university's Wait Chapel.

"Certainly Barack and I are instruments of this historical happening, but it is much deeper and broader than both of us," she said.

Clinton's campaign billed the event as a "conversation," and Angelou told the audience just to consider it like two friends talking. One woman sitting in the front row took it as an opportunity to get particularly intimate.

"Hillary, I love you, I always have and I always will, and I felt so sorry for you when, you know, Bill had his affair," said the woman, drawing a chorus of gasps.

"And I know nobody wants to talk about it, but I felt very sorry," she said over the din. "But I think now the best way to overcome it is to become president."

There was scattered applause and a few cheers as Angelou interjected: "Thank you. That's a statement, that's not a question."

The woman concluded by asking Clinton whom she would chose as her running mate.

"My goodness," Clinton said. She responded that she couldn't say who would be her running mate since she hasn't won the nomination. She did not address the infidelity remark.