Chelsea Clinton sweeps through Burlington

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(Host) Chelsea Clinton swept through Burlington today to drum up enthusiasm for her mother’s presidential campaign.

Clinton dropped in at downtown cafes and stores before taking questions from students at University of Vermont.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd was there.

(sound of Clinton on streets of Burlington)

(Sneyd) About 150 people turned out in the bitter cold to see Chelsea Clinton make the rounds downtown – and to express their admiration and support for her mother, Senator Hillary Clinton.

(crowd) “We love your mother.” (Clinton)“I do, too.”

(Sneyd) Chelsea Clinton made chitchat. She signed campaign posters and copies of her mother’s book. She bought coffee at one restaurant and a cup of peppermint tea at another.

Clinton didn’t announce any new policy initiatives and she didn’t pick any fights with her mother’s opponents.

That wasn’t her job. She traveled to Vermont just to show the family flag and, she says, to give people reason to vote for her mother.

(Clinton) “I passionately support my mother, as her daughter. I mean I hope we’re all biased toward our parents. But also as a young voter and as a young woman. I would like to try help talk to you about what’s on your mind as a voter, as a young person, as you think about whom to support.”

(Sneyd) And for more than an hour at UVM, she did just that – she gave answers filled with policy detail, and praise for her mother.

Clinton even sprinkled into her talk some Vermont references.

(Clinton) “And when universal health care wasn’t achieved, she didn’t give up. She kept pushing to expand health care. It’s what resulted in the children’s health insurance program, something you know as Dr. Dynasaur here in Vermont.”

(Sneyd) Clinton took on a wide variety of issues for her mother besides health care – the war in Iraq, trade agreements, civil unions, the tax code.

She turned away any suggestion that she might have a future in politics herself.

(Clinton) “My political ambitions stretch as far as to helping my Mom be my president.”

(Sneyd) And she hinted at the tough position that Senator Clinton is in as she faces must-win primaries in Ohio and Texas, which also vote on Tuesdy. She advised a supporter that it might be a bit premature to speculate on Cabinet appointments.

(Clinton) “We don’t take anything for granted in my family. I don’t really see past March fourth. I hope with the support of Texas and Ohio, Vermont, Rhode Island, … my mother will be in a position to select a Cabinet.”

(Sneyd) Clinton didn’t mention it. But Vermont is one of the states that looks like it’s going to be tough for her mother to win. Polls show Senator Barack Obama with a commanding lead heading into Tuesday’s voting.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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