(CNN) – The economy, and more specifically, the sub-prime lending crisis, is fast becoming a central theme in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s message. On Friday, she called for an economic stimulus package that would help low-income families keep their homes and stay warm this winter – and could come with a $110 billion price tag.
Clinton has said she fears a recession, although her campaign has avoided describing the economy’s current state in that language.
On Thursday evening, the New York senator canvassed a primarily Latino neighborhood in Central Las Vegas and periodically surveyed voters about the impact of housing foreclosures. She held a roundtable at a local restaurant with people who had lost their homes.
Clinton and her daughter Chelsea visited Gilberto Santana, who is out of work and having to borrow money from friends to help pay his bills, including his mortgage. Santana, a Clinton supporter, is also a member of the Las Vegas culinary union, a group that endorsed Senator Barack Obama earlier this week.
On Friday, the presidential hopeful said Congress should work with the White House to pass a $70 billion economic boost, and to follow that with as much as $40 billion in tax refunds.
The bill proposed Friday would provide $10 billion to extend unemployment insurance, create a $30 billion fund to help states and local governments deal with the housing crisis, provide $25 billion in emergency energy, and set a 90-day moratorium on sub-prime mortgages of at least five years, among other elements of the plan.
With Nevada’s foreclosure rates among the highest in the nation, Clinton hopes her economic focus will play well among the state’s working and middle class. The loss of the culinary endorsement and the myriad of hurdles campaigns face in educating Nevada’s voters about next week’s caucuses could prove problematic for Clinton.
“I’m very committed to reaching out and meeting the people in this state and the leaders that I have here in my campaign are very confident that we’ll do very well,” she told reporters. “It takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of outreach and shoe leather and phone calling but that’s what we’re doing and we’re prepared to just you know pull out all the stops to be as successful as possible,” she said. Some of Clinton’s Iowa field staff has relocated to Nevada.
Clinton beat Obama in New Hampshire among middle- to lower- income voters, some of which may have not been able to turn out in Iowa because the caucuses were held at night. Nevada’s caucuses will be held on a Saturday morning, but Clinton says problems with the caucus system persist.
“When I realized you only had a limited period of time on one day to have your voices heard that is troubling to me. And in the situation of a caucus people who work during that time, they're disenfranchised,” she said. “We're going to do everything we can between now and January 19 to reach as many people as possible, but there will be a lot of people who even if they want to come, can't, so I think it's a problem.”
Both Clinton and Obama plan to visit Nevada several times between now and next Saturday’s contest and both candidates are about equally invested in television advertising.
“I need to get a very clear message as to what I have done and what I will do,” Clinton said in response to a question about what she learned from her New Hampshire primary win. “There’s a big difference between talking and doing and rhetoric and reality and I’m going to be sure that the people here in Nevada and across the country as we move up on all these contests know that I’m not just telling them what I will do and asking them to take it on faith, I’ve done it.”
Clinton’s economic speech Friday in Los Angles garnered quite a bit of free media attention, a crucial part of any campaign’s Golden State strategy. While California has always been friendly to the Clintons, an unaffiliated Democratic strategist said what will make the difference for either Clinton or Obama in the February 5 primary here will be wins in Nevada, South Carolina and Florida.
– CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson