HOUSTON – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton praised residents of Houston on Saturday for their help in responding to Hurricane Katrina and said that if elected she would lead a more competent government than the Bush administration.
"We have to have leadership again that asks us to step up and show the world who Americans are and what we can do," Clinton said during her first visit to Texas since announcing her candidacy. She met with supporters at a breakfast before speaking at the Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Criticizing the Bush administration on a range of issues, the New York senator said she would create a universal pre-kindergarten program, provide health care for all Americans and generate jobs.
"During the 1990s, we lifted more people out of poverty than any time in American history and now they've fallen back in," she told church congregants. "We had more bankruptcies last year than college graduates."
She also called for immigration reform, saying the government needs to know who is in the country but adding that illegal immigrants need a path to citizenship.
Clinton repeated her pledge to bring home troops from Iraq if President Bush doesn't, yet she cautioned that troop withdrawals wouldn't happen overnight
"People want it done yesterday. It's going to take time," she said.
Asked if she would consider one of her rivals as a running mate, Clinton said, "I will certainly be honored to consider them and other extremely qualified and meritorious candidates because we are going to have a lot of work to do."
Clinton acknowledged that the Lone Star state is a Republican stronghold but said, "I love Texas too much to leave it to the other side."