Pennsylvanians have a big decision to make in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. We face tremendous challenges here at home and around the world. It is vital that we select a candidate who is both ready to win and ready to start addressing these problems beginning on the very first day. And I have no doubt that the best person to take on John McCain in the fall and, more important, to lead our nation starting January 20, 2009, is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
I've had the privilege of getting to know Senator Clinton over the past 15 years. I've seen her endless enthusiasm for solving problems and her boundless work ethic up close. She is one of the smartest, most capable, and competent individuals you will ever meet. But what has also struck me is how caring she is – about people and about real solutions to our problems.
That's what drives her. That's what will motivate her as our president. And I believe that she is best suited to carry out and reach the goals that matter to the people of our state.
Let's look at some of the solutions Hillary will offer.
Solutions such as healthcare for everyone. Can there be any doubt that she is the best person in this country to make sure everyone – no exceptions – has affordable, high quality healthcare? Hillary was fighting to fix America's healthcare system and cover everyone long before it was popular. And now Hillary is the only candidate in this race to offer truly universal healthcare that covers everyone.
Solutions such as a strong middle class. Hillary has a plan to create jobs and bring back smart, common-sense economic policies. During the 1990s, our economy was on the right track: balanced budgets and a surplus, 22 million new jobs, a nation investing in our schools and our people. We've squandered that. But I know Hillary has the knowledge, experience, and concrete plans to get our economy back on track.
Solutions for the home mortgage crisis. As soon as she takes office, Hillary will bring together mortgage lenders, banks, community organizations, and regulators and negotiate an immediate freeze on foreclosures. And her plan will help people stay in their homes and address the decline in home values eating into so much of the savings and wealth of middle class Pennsylvanians.
Solutions for creating jobs. Hillary's energy plan will create at least five million jobs in clean renewable energy and energy efficiency – something we've worked hard to do here in Pennsylvania with little or no help from the federal government. She'll invest in infrastructure again – to partner with our state to rebuild our roads, bridges, and transit systems and create three million new jobs. She'll end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and use the savings to invest in creating jobs at home, instead.
Solutions to our education system: I know how deeply Pennsylvanians care about this issue and it's been a priority of my administration. Senator Clinton has a plan for universal preschool for every child in America. She'll fix No Child Left Behind. And she'll help students afford college with new tuition tax credits and bigger grants to help cover the full tuition at an average community college or half the cost of an average public university.
That's not just the right thing to do for young people – it's smart for our nation, too. If we're going to regain our competitive edge, we've got to start right at the beginning by preparing our young people for the future.
She also has solutions for ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home. It was because of Senator Clinton that the Bush administration had to come before the Senate Armed Services Committee and brief senators on the Pentagon's plan to withdraw our forces. She's not just talking about ending the war. She has actively worked to lay the groundwork so she can begin ending the war within 60 days of her inauguration, as quickly and safely as possible.
The bottom line is this: Hillary is best prepared to be the commander in chief of our military and our economy starting on Day 1. The past eight years in the White House have been an unmitigated disaster, and we don't have a moment to waste in putting America back on the right track.
We need a president who will stand strong for Pennsylvania. We need a candidate who can take on John McCain in November and a leader who is ready and willing to harness the power of the presidency to solve problems for America.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is that candidate. I will be proud to cast my vote for her on Tuesday. I urge you to join me.
• Edward G. Rendell is the governor of Pennsylvania.