PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) – On the face of things, with its sizeable African-American population, Philadelphia looks to be friendly territory for Barack Obama by the time the Pennsylvania primary rolls around on April 22.
But Hillary Clinton is making a push Friday for the urban vote, holding two policy-oriented events in the city to spotlight the twin issues of crime and the economy.
Appearing at a YMCA in west Philadelphia this morning with Mayor Michael Nutter, who yesterday signed into law a series of controversial anti-gun measures, Clinton unveiled a plan to cut the national murder rate in half.
Introducing Clinton, Nutter urged the federal government to provide more assistance to mayors around the country working to put ex-offenders back to work and protect families from violent crime
“Here in west Philadelphia, we’re worried more about Al Gangsta than al Qaeda,” Nutter joked. “Osama bin laden and some of those other folks couldn’t last five minutes in west Philadelphia.”
Though Clinton did not outline a target date for reducing the murder rate, Clinton said she plans to do so by putting “100,000 new police officers on the beat” in cities nationwide and providing grants for community partnerships, reducing gang violence and after school programs. She said as president she would renew the assault weapons ban, which Congress let expire in 2004.
“It is a sad day in America when the president can find hundreds of billions of dollars to police another country’s civil war, but cuts funding for police officers right here at home,” Clinton said.
Clinton offered praise for a program instituted in New York City by her old rival: former mayor Rudy Giuliani. The program, called COMPSTAT, compiles statistics as a way to hold law enforcement bodies accountable for crime reduction. Giuliani often promoted the program while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.
After the speech and before heading to an economic event with Nutter at Drexel University, Clinton roamed the corner of Chestnut and 52nd streets shaking hands with voters, while supporters of both Obama and Clinton jammed the block and cheered for their respective candidates.
"Tell mayor Nutter this is Obama city," yelled one man, needling the African-American mayor for endorsing Clinton. But the Obama fan shouted a caveat: "I still love you, Hillary."
– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby