MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham
Clinton on Friday assailed a "culture of cronyism" in government
as she vowed to streamline the federal bureaucracy and improve
In a speech in this early primary state, Clinton called for
slashing 500,000 government contractors, potentially saving up to
$18 billion a year, and promised to cut back on no-bid government
"It's not exactly the subject matter that gets people marching
in the street, but if we don't restore the confidence and the
competence of our government, we will see the steady erosion of our
government's capacity," the New York senator said.
The speech also sought to emphasize her knowledge of government
and - although she never mentioned him - highlight the differences
between her resume and that of Democratic rival Barack Obama, a
freshman senator from Illinois.
"It's time again for a president who can earn your respect and
trust, one day at a time," Clinton said.
In response, the Obama campaign put out a statement, saying that
"throughout his political career, Barack Obama has been a leader
in the fight for open and honest government," and citing his work
for an ethics bill in Illinois and his role in trying to limit the
role of lobbyists.
The former first lady acknowledged that voters look at
politicians and government with cynicism - "that's sort of the
American birthright" - but she said her plan could remedy that.
She called for a ban on former Cabinet officials lobbying their
former colleagues, adding protections for whistle-blowers, creating
a public service academy and restoring her husband's White House
Office of Technology Assessment.
"We know government isn't the answer to all our problems,"
Clinton said, but then added that the current administration often
looks at federal programs with disdain and disrespect. "By
denigrating our government, we undermine our capacity to work
together to solve these problems."
Her proposals echoed "Reinventing Government," or REGO, a
program launched during her husband's administration and run by
Vice President Al Gore. REGO was credited with saving taxpayers
more than $136 billion over eight years by cutting the federal work
force, trimming layers of management and cutting subsidies for
items like mohair and wool.
Clinton said some of the proposed changes would be made through
executive order and others through legislation. She said she'd move
quickly as president to implement the changes.
Clinton echoed pieces of her so-called "invisible speech,"
which she introduced during a Democratic Party fundraiser in New
Hampshire in March. On Friday, she told the Manchester, N.H., crowd
that she wouldn't allow students who can't afford college, seniors
who can't afford health care and government scientists whose
research doesn't support the administration to remain unseen by
"Well, you're not invisible to the rest of America and you're
certainly not invisible to me," Clinton said. "And when we take
back the White House, you'll no longer be invisible to the
president of the United States."
Later in the day, Clinton met with voters at the state's oldest
public high school, Central High School, and defended abortion
"In the United States, the pro-choice position is the
pro-conscience position," she said, answering a question about
what she would do to protect women's reproductive rights.
She challenged Americans to rally behind national priorities,
much like citizens did around President Kennedy's space program.
"We don't have goals as a nation right now. We need to, because
that is when we're at our best," she said.
Clinton said she would take steps to change detainee practices
at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.