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Bill Clinton continues Indiana trip in Richmond

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Lawrenceburg - Hillary Rodham Clinton stood by her husband during his eight years in the White House. On Tuesday, he returned the favor, exhorting an overflow crowd in southern Indiana to send his wife to the Oval Office to help steer the U.S. through rough times at home and abroad.

Saying most Americans think the country is already in a recession and want troops home from Iraq, former President Bill Clinton called his wife the best prepared candidate to bring what one supporter's sign said was "change you can count on."

"In a sentence, that's what this election is about," Clinton said.

More than 500 people turned out at a community center in Lawrenceburg, a southern Indiana city of 4,500 people just across the state line from Cincinnati. Former Indiana first lady Judy O'Bannon introduced Clinton, who planned appearances later Tuesday in Richmond and Fort Wayne.

He said he liked his trips to small-town America to campaign for his wife.

"It's all riding on you," he said. "Places like Lawrenceburg have carried her this far ... and they will carry her to the nomination and to the presidency if you will stick with her."

Clinton's visit was a prelude to a swing through Indiana by the candidate herself on Thursday. Hillary Clinton plans to be in Terre Haute, Anderson and Evansville that day in her battle with Sen. Barack Obama for the state's 72 delegates. Obama, of Illinois, was in Plainfield on Saturday, and party officials expect to see more of both candidates before the state's May 6 primary.

Clinton struck a cordial note toward Obama, saying Democrats had two solid candidates. He was slightly stronger in his comments about presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.

He compared McCain's approach of seeing the Iraq war through to the end to taking in a neighbor who has lost a home in a fire, letting him sleep on your couch indefinitely.

"If your neighbor is still on the couch after five years, what do you know? It's not about the fire anymore, it's about not having to get off the couch. That's where we are in Iraq. It's not about the fire anymore."

He appealed to middle class voters, saying they are struggling with flat incomes even as health care and gasoline costs are increasing.

"People are broke at the end of every month," he said. "This has to change."

On economic issues, he added:

"I still believe this country's best days are ahead. I believe we got in this fix 'cause we made dumb decisions. I think if we make big decisions and work on big things together, it'll be better. I believe if you elect her, and her plans for the economy are adopted, you will have more growth more broadly shared when she's president than you did when I was in. That's what I believe."

Though Hillary Clinton trails Obama in the delegate count, supporters at the rally said her time as a New York senator and first lady gives her an edge.

"I just really think she's more experienced than him and could probably do a better job," said Dallas Gulley, 75, of Sunman.

Obama has 1,598 delegates, while Clinton has 1,487, according to an Associated Press count. It takes 2,025 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination for president, making Indiana a potentially crucial state for the first time in decades.

Kay Hellmann, of Taylor Mill, Ky., is still undecided but said she's leaning toward voting for the former first lady in Kentucky's May 20 primary.

"Barack Obama is a good speech giver and everything, but he doesn't seem to have the background in foreign policy like Hillary does," she said.

Another Lawrenceburg voter remarked, "I am really switching parties. This is a first. I've been a Republican forever." While it's unlikely that Indiana will switch from red to blue in the general election, comments like that may have both parties taking notice.

"I think that she is the most capable of the candidates. I think her experience, her lifetime in public service; the things that she has done," said former Gov. Joe Kernan (D-IN).

Clinton said he believes the country's best days are still ahead. And he claimed he would campaign for his wife even if they weren't married.

"She wears well," he said. "They beat up on her for 16 years and she just gets stronger and stronger and stronger. We don't want to go to all of this trouble and lose this election."

Bill Clinton's Tuesday schedule:

Tuesday, March 18

President Clinton Attends a "Solutions for America" Rally
12:45 p.m. EDT
Dearborn Adult Center
311 West Tate Street
Lawrenceburg, IN

President Clinton Attends a "Solutions for America" Rally
3:30 p.m. EDT
Fire Station No. 1
101 South Fifth Street
Richmond, IN

President Clinton Attends a "Solutions for America" Rally
6:45 p.m. EDT
Grand Wayne Center
Convention Hall C
120 West Jefferson Boulevard
Fort Wayne, IN

Hillary Clinton's Thursday schedule:

Hillary Clinton Attends "Solutions For America" Event
Terre Haute, IN
Additional Details TBD
Doors Open: 2:15 p.m. EDT
Event Begins: 3:45 p.m. EDT           

Hillary Clinton Attends "Solutions For the American Economy" Town Hall
The Wigwam
1229 Lincoln St
Anderson, IN
Doors Open: 5:45 p.m. CDT
Event Begins: 7:00  p.m. CDT

Hillary Clinton Attends "Solutions For America" Rally
William Henry Harrison High School Gymnasiums
211 Fielding Road
Evansville, IN

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