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Campaigning in SC, Hillary Clinton says rural children deserve same benefits as urban kids

SANTEE, S.C. – Hillary Rodham Clinton is stressing her commitment to children in rural areas, saying they should receive the same government benefits as children in urban centres.

“We need to start literally in infancy,” the Democratic presidential contender told a crowd of several hundred on Wednesday in rural Orangeburg County.

After her first big rally in New York City on Saturday, Clinton has been touring swing states laying out a child-centred rationale for her White House bid. She’s promised to make “high quality preschool” available for all 4-year-old children in 10 years, if she becomes president, double federal money for early Head Start programs and seek a tax cut to help parents with the costs of raising children younger than 3.

She planned later Wednesday to lay out a proposal, aimed at youth unemployment, for tax credits to encourage businesses to train young people and offer apprenticeships. She was expected to propose a tax credit of $1,500 for every apprentice hired.

Clinton said on the weekend she would begin outlining policy proposals during the summer, and the economic agenda item aims to connect with young workers and black young adults. The May unemployment rate for workers age 18 to 34 was 7.8 per cent, more than 2 percentage points higher than the national average, while unemployment for young black adults was 14.6 per cent.

Clinton returned to South Carolina after stops in Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton was soundly defeated by Barack Obama in the 2008 South Carolina contest and her campaign has taken steps to build a strong primary organization in the early voting state.

Clinton has said she hopes to present ideas that cross party lines.

“I’m going to try to be producing an agenda that I hope can draw Republican voters and Republican members of Congress,” Clinton told the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. “I’m well aware that the party on the other side has gone very far toward the Tea Party side, but I think there are still a lot of Republicans that understand that we’ve got to do things for our country — we have to make progress, and we’ve got to get results.”

The campaign said the tax credit proposal would require accountability for employment and earnings outcomes for businesses receiving the credit. Apprentices would need to be registered in order to be eligible.

Clinton presided over a similar project at the Clinton Global Initiative last year called “Job One,” which aimed to help young people ages 16-24 who were out of high school and unemployed. The initiative worked with companies like The Gap, JPMorgan Chase and Marriott to train and hire young people.

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Lerer reported from Washington. Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.