Hampton ready to hear what Clinton has to say
Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks at Dover High School during a February 2007 campaign stop in New Hampshire. (Andrew Moore photo)
Hillary Clinton (D) Senator, New York
Born: 10/26/1947
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Home: Chappaqua, NY
Religion: Methodist
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HAMPTON - Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is coming to Hampton on Saturday to have a "conversation with Granite Staters" at Winnacunnet High School.

Clinton will host a town hall-style forum at the schoolís gymnasium on Saturday, during which she will answer questions on issues ranging from health care to the war in Iraq. This will be the Democratic presidential front-runnerís fifth visit to New Hampshire, but her first stop in Hampton since announcing her bid for the White House.

Several local residents said not only do they plan to attend, but they are also excited to see the former first lady up close and in person.

"There is a lot of excitement around her visit," said Lenore Patton, chairwoman of the Rockingham County Democrats. "I think the more we can get candidates to come to town, it will allow for more people to make informed choices when it comes to the primary."

But Patton was not ready to call Clinton the Democratsí front-runner in a race that includes Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

"Itís too early to say," Patton said.

But if it were up to Hampton Tax Collector Joyce Sheehan, Clinton would not only win the Democratic primary but also become the next president of the United States.

"I think she is absolutely wonderful," said Sheehan, who plans to attend the event. "Iíve been waiting for her to run since her husbandís term was over."

Sheehan said Clinton has even impressed her daughter-in-law, who is a staunch Republican.

"She went to go see her in Dover and was so impressed with her that she even said sheíd vote for her," Sheehan said. "She told me how she answered every question and didnít try to talk around the issues."

Michael Pierce said his wife is also very pro-Hillary, calling her "the goodest thing to happen since sliced bread."

"Hillary was the only reason why she voted for Bill Clinton," Pierce said. He said his support for Clinton is not as strong as his wifeís, but "I still would like to hear what she has to say.

"I think one of her problems, which I think she is beginning to overcome, is her vote to support the Iraq war. But I think voters can get past that because I think we were all misled."

Gerald Dignam said he wants to hear Clintonís views on illegal immigration.

"I have vowed not to vote for anyone who supports amnesty," Dignam said. "Republican or Democrat. This is the second biggest issue that is facing our country behind the Iraq war, and no one wants to talk about it."

Dignam said he is also not sure if the country is ready to elect a woman as president.

"The country should be ready, but I donít know," Dignam said.

Mary Boynton, vice chairwoman of the Hampton Republican Party, said sheís indifferent to Clintonís visit.

"Iím not watching what she is doing simply for the fact that she doesnít have the interests that reflect what my interests are," Boynton said. "And I canít imagine another four years with a Clinton."

Dennis Kepner said heís also indifferent to Clintonís visit, but for a different reason.

"I think we all need to get a grip on life," Kepner said. "There are so many more important issues out there. I think itís ridiculous these candidates are raising million of dollars, flying all over the country when we have so many real problems out there. I think we need to get back to business."

Before her Seacoast stops, Clinton will be in Manchester today. She is scheduled to make what her campaign officials are calling a major policy speech at Saint Anselm College and then will hold an event at Central High School.