In Montana, Clinton Invokes State’s Famed Female Trailblazer

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton laid claim Sunday to Montana’s famed female trailblazer — Jeannette Rankin, who in 1916 became the first woman ever elected to Congress.

“Remember, Jeannette Rankin was elected before women could vote. So who says men don’t vote for a woman?” Clinton told an audience crowded into an airport hangar here.

A Republican and lifelong pacifist, Rankin lost her House seat after just one term in part because she voted against authorizing U.S. entry into World War I. She was elected again in 1940 and became the only member of Congress to oppose entry in World War II.

Rankin was also an ardent feminist who championed birth control and women’s suffrage.

For her part, Clinton reaffirmed her vote to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying she believed at the time it was a vote to send in weapons inspectors rather than to launch immediate military action.

“I’m more than willing to be held accountable for it, because that’s the way it is life. You are judged on your actions,” said Clinton, who took the stage with Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss and state Sen. Carol Williams of Missoula, Montana’s first female Senate majority leader.

In another nod to her status as the only woman candidate in the field, Clinton noted it took her more time than her male counterparts to prepare for a day on the campaign trail.

“Do you realize how much longer it takes for me to get ready than my opponents?” Clinton said. “I think I should get points for what I do, plus having to spend so much time getting ready.”

Clinton began the day with a fundraiser at Missoula’s Hilton Garden Inn. Her town hall meeting ended just before 1 p.m., bringing to a close a weekend of Montana campaign appearances by both Clinton and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama.

The two gave back-to-back speeches Saturday night before a crowd of more than 4,000 at the Montana Democratic Party’s annual dinner in Butte. On Saturday morning, Obama held a rally in Missoula that packed more than 7,500 into the University of Montana’s sports arena.

Montana’s primary is June 3.

Also Sunday, the Clinton campaign outlined the ways in which Montana would benefit from Clinton’s plan to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil, address global warming and promote alternative energy.

The plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and cutting foreign oil imports by two-thirds from 2030 projected levels.

“Montana is already a leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” the campaign said in a news release. “As president, Hillary will be a strong partner with Montana, investing $150 billion in research, development and deployment of clean energy over the next decade, including $50 billion through a Strategic Energy Fund paid for with a windfall profits tax on large oil companies.”

The campaign said Montana would benefit directly from Clinton’s plan with:

— A new incentive program to help farmers and ranchers pay for up to 50 percent of the cost to install “on-farm energy technology” such as windmills, solar panels and biodiesel oilseed presses.

— A permanent renewable production tax credit and new consumer tax incentives to support Montana’s growing wind-power sector.

— A “Green Building Fund” that would create more than 100,000 new jobs and provide $5 million a year to fund Montana initiatives.

— Immediate funding for 10 large-scale carbon capture and storage projects to help pioneer new clean technologies for Montana and other “coal states.”