NEW YORK – Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton took the stage Sunday with her husband, the former president, at a major fundraiser that brought in over $1 million for her presidential campaign.
In a Manhattan hotel ballroom filled with New York elected officials and wealthy Democratic donors, Bill Clinton introduced his wife by describing her long career in public service beginning at Yale Law School where the couple met 35 years ago.
He said he had encouraged her then to pursue a career in New York or Chicago and is still amazed she followed him back to Arkansas, where he was eager to run for office.
"I now have met all the best people in our generation, and you are the best," he recalled telling her then. "And I feel more strongly about that today than I did when I said it 35 years ago. That's why she should be president ... You'll never find anybody who will do a better job of it than she will."
Hillary Clinton vowed to pursue several specific goals if elected president, including universal health care, preschool for every child, and making college more affordable. She also pledged to promote energy independence and drew laughs from the crowd when she described replacing ordinary light bulbs with energy-efficient models and shutting off lights to conserve power.
"I turn off a light and say, 'Take that, Iran,' and "Take that, Venezuela.' We should not be sending our money to people who are not going to support our values," she said.
She also denounced the Iraq war, which she voted to authorize in 2002, and promised to end it as president if President Bush does not by the end of his term.
"We never should have gone there, we never should have seen the mismanagement and the bad decisions that have unfortunately marked this administration's behavior. But we are there now and we have to end the war in the right way," she said to applause.
The Clintons have kept largely separate public schedules since Hillary Clinton launched her campaign in January. Sunday's event was the first large-scale fundraiser the couple has headlined together.
Hillary Clinton has been traveling extensively to money hubs like California and Florida while the former president has been the featured guest at several smaller, high donor events for his wife's campaign.
The two will appear again together at a major fundraising dinner Tuesday night in Washington.
They have made just one joint campaign appearance together, at a civil rights commemoration in Selma, Ala., earlier this month. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton's lead rival for the Democratic nomination, was the keynote speaker at that event.
Hillary Clinton did not mention Obama's name Sunday but praised the other candidates in the field. She said she was looking forward to a "vigorous Democratic contest."