First lady urges Americans to build strong communities

September 17, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Dan Fesperman contributed to this article.

Hillary Rodham Clinton told a crowd of more than 800 people last night at a Democratic fund-raiser in Baltimore that Americans, particularly women, must come together to build strong communities to tackle the problems of society as it moves into the next century.

Clinton appeared at a fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency Hotel sponsored by the Women's Leadership Forum, an affiliate of the Democratic National Committee that is working to boost voter turnout among women.

'No stranger' to city

The event, which was attended by almost every major Democratic elected official in Maryland, including Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski, raised about $250,000 for the committee.

Mikulski, in introducing Clinton, said the first lady was "no stranger to Baltimore," having visited the city several times.

"She's been with me at Jimmy's Restaurant," Mikulski said, drawing laughs from the crowd with the reference to the popular Fells Point establishment the senator frequents.

'We see the potential'

"She's been with me at Jimmy's Restaurant, worrying about a low-fat diet -- and also the needs of small business."

Clinton echoed her husband's campaign theme of looking to the future, a contrast they want to make with his Republican opponent, Bob Dole, whom they paint as one looking to the past.

"It is an exciting time to be a woman in America, because we do have so many opportunities and choices available to us," Clinton said.

"We see the potential, and we see the obstacles that we will have to overcome as women, as Americans. But we are at a point where I am so optimistic about what lies ahead. I see a lot of forces converging that are willing to take on the hard issues that confront us as a nation."

Theme of book

Clinton drew upon the theme of her book, "It Takes a Village," in exhorting the crowd to take responsibility for building a sense of community and common responsibility.

She referred to her spring trip to Bosnia, where she met with people who had suffered through the civil war there, where the breakdown of common bonds pits neighbor against neighbor.

"And I thought to myself that this is what our great mission is in the 21st century as Americans, to show people, starting with ourselves, that we can live together, we can work together, we can pursue common objectives together," she said.

"And that we can serve as an example to people throughout the world who are wondering how to get along in this shrinking planet with people unlike themselves."

Johns Hopkins speech

Earlier in the evening, Clinton arrived more than an hour behind schedule at the Johns Hopkins University, where she addressed about 800 students and community development workers on subjects such as oral rehydration therapy, an emergency treatment for diarrhea.

She cited the treatment, pioneered in the Third World and now used in low-income urban areas of the United States, as an example of how foreign aid can help Americans.

"We are learning what works [in other countries] and applying it to solve our own problems here," she said.

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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