Bill Clinton Calls Hillary Clinton Best Successor

Associated Press Writer

October 28, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was hailed by her husband Saturday as the best Democratic choice for the White House at a rally just uptown from his Harlem office where they were greeted by the sweet sounds of the Abyssinian Baptist Church choir and the handclaps of its congregation.

"I would be campaigning for Hillary even if I was not married to her," former President Clinton said from the altar of the historic church on West 138th Street. "I believe she is the best qualified, best suited non-incumbent ever."

The Clintons appeared before the near-capacity crowd with the senator walking out first, followed by her husband. The church echoed with cheers as Bill Clinton saluted the crowd, which responded with chants of "Hillary! Hillary!"

The choir sang "Victory Is Mine" as the couple clapped along with their supporters.

After she was introduced by her husband, Sen. Clinton told the crowd it was time to return America "on the path to goodness and greatness again." She attacked the Bush administration for marginalizing the middle class, children and other groups.

"We're going to make it clear there are no invisible people in America," the senator said.

The rally in the city's most famous black neighborhood was another indication of the battle between Clinton and Barack Obama for the black vote in the Democratic primary. Last month in California, Clinton appeared in Watts and at a Beverly Hill fundraiser with hoops star Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Obama's name received a loud cheer from the audience when he was mentioned by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. The latest AP-Ipsos poll shows Clinton leading Obama, her closest rival, 46 percent to 25 percent.

As evidenced at the Harlem rally, Sen. Clinton benefits from the strong relationship her husband has enjoyed for years with black voters. Bill Clinton was cheered for mentioning that the couple had just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary, and he joined them in singing "Happy Birthday" to his wife, who just turned 60.

Clinton supporters lined up in a driving rain to get inside the church, where they were joined by virtually all the city's top Democrats, from Congressional delegation dean Rep. Charles Rangel to City Council speaker Christine Quinn.

Rangel was credited by Sen. Clinton as the first person to encourage her run for the Senate, and by Bill Clinton for lining up his office space on 125th Street. He told the crowd they had a chance to change America by putting New York's junior senator in the White House.

"I want the old people like me to remember, and the young people to say, 'I think I was there,'" Rangel said. "We are making history."