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Bill Clinton treks SD for Hillary

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Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WAGNER, S.D. (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton is staying in the Democratic presidential race because surveys and polls show she can win the nomination and general election - and she's the stronger candidate, Bill Clinton told South Dakotans Sunday.

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"The evidence is overwhelming," he said to more than 350 gathered around the front porch of a house in Wagner. "It's pretty clear who's doing the best."

The former president said his wife was treated unfairly for comments Friday in Sioux Falls about Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 assassination. "That really made my blood boil."

Hillary Clinton's reference to the assassination as she attempted to explain her reasons for remaining in the race struck some who heard it as a veiled reference to rival Barack Obama.

Her husband's stop was the last of three across central South Dakota Sunday in which he echoed her message that she's better able to turn the nation's struggling economy around.

"We do not have a country of shared prosperity," Bill Clinton said of rural areas. "I think that's something you really need to think about as you prepare for the election."

Hillary Clinton and Obama are competing for 15 delegates in the June 3 South Dakota primary.

Obama added three superdelegates in Hawaii on Sunday, giving him a total of 1,977 delegates, just 49 short of the 2,026 needed to clinch the nomination. Clinton still has 1,779.

In South Dakota, both candidates are courting the state's American Indian voters.

Hillary Clinton plans to campaign on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Wednesday. Her husband was there last week, and his three stops Sunday also were on or near large Indian populations: at Fort Thompson on the Crow Indian Reservation, at Mission on the Rosebud reservation, and Wagner, which is home to many Yankton Sioux.

Sam Sully, 56, of Wagner, said that as an Indian, he thinks either Democratic candidate would restore funding to core programs on which Indians rely, such as health care and education.

"I could sway either way right now," he said. "I came here to see the president."

Lonnie Provost, 32, of Wagner, said he'd also like to see funding restored to Indian programs.

As for the campaign, he said Obama and Clinton should start working together now.

"I'd like to see the Democratic Party unite and look to the long-term goal," Provost said.

But Larry and Marcene Kniffen, both 66, of Tyndall said the media, party leaders and superdelegates have written Clinton off too soon, though they're afraid Obama has the nomination secured.

"Hillary knows a lot about politics so there must be a reason she's staying in," he said. "As long as there's a chance, she ought to keep going."

Barbara Healy, 51, of Irene, said Clinton clearly has more experience and has earned it.

"She's totally qualified. The fact she's a woman is a bonus for us," she said.

Bill Clinton spoke for more than an hour and outlined - at times in great detail - four main reasons why those gathered should vote for his wife: she's more likely to beat Republican John McCain, better qualified to be commander in chief, won't just talk about change but actually make it happen, and can turn the economy around.

Clinton said his wife is the only candidate who has outlined specifically how she would accomplish her campaign goals.

"We have to go back to fiscal responsibility," he said.

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