LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) – Sen. Hillary Clinton entered the final weekend before Tuesday’s mega primaries offering up what her campaign called a “sharpened” closing argument - one that takes on both primary rival Barack Obama and potential general election opponent John McCain.
“My opponent will not commit to universal health care,” she told a packed rally at Cal State in East Los Angeles. “I do not believe we should nominate any Democrat who will not proudly stand here today, tomorrow and the next day and say universal health care is the goal.”
Clinton argues Barack Obama’s health care proposal will leave out 15 million Americans because he does not mandate coverage – a point that has become one of the most discussed policy differences of the primary season.
“I want you to know when you vote for me that I will get up everyday and try to do exactly what I told you I would do,” she said, urging voters to get out and work the phones and knock on doors this weekend across California, a delegate-rich state where she and surrogates have invested heavy amounts of time. “There will be no guesswork. I’m not asking you to take a leap of faith, I’m asking you to hire me to do the hardest job in the entire world.”
The New York senator also looked past Tuesday to November’s general election, and how the ongoing war in Iraq may play out between the two parties’ nominees.
“Unlike Sen. McCain, who said he’d be perfectly happy to be there for 100 years, I just want you to think about this: I believe that we can have an election this time where all of the issues including national security are ones that Democrats can stand and proudly promote. I take a back seat to no one to my commitment to protect and defend this country, but let’s do it a smart way for a change,” she said.
At a media availability earlier this week, Clinton had declined to comment on why she is better suited than Obama to run against John McCain.
But on Saturday, Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn released a memo in which he argued that, despite Obama's history of opposition to the Iraq war, Clinton was the candidate best-equipped to take on McCain over the issue.
Before her final Los Angeles rally, Clinton visited with a group of voters at a home in Inglewood, CA for a more informal chat about issues. In a lengthy response about the war in Iraq, Clinton addressed why it has receded somewhat from daily campaign headlines.
“The only reason you don’t hear us talking about it right now is we can’t do anything about it right now. We have to win, we have to take back the White House and that’s the only way we’re going to be able to get ourselves out of Iraq and repair the damage that’s been done,” she said.
Clinton is headed to Arizona and New Mexico later today and is scheduled to make campaign stops in Missouri and Minnesota on Sunday.
–CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson