Clinton draws cheering crowd at start of Arkansas visit

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to Democrats today that, in next year's race, she would carry Arkansas, where she was first lady for 12 years.

She also won the endorsement today of Governor Beebe. Clinton, now a U.S. senator from New York, promised crowds in separate appearances at Fayetteville and Little Rock that she would be a familiar face in Arkansas, where her husband served as attorney general and governor before being elected president in 1992.

With Governor Beebe standing at her side, Clinton said the intensity of yesterday's debate among the Democratic contenders shows an intense interest in change, but dismissed the idea that voters must choose between change or experience.

Earlier today, in Fayetteville, Clinton shook hands at a shop down the street from the University of Arkansas, where she first came to the state to teach law 33 years ago.

Clinton met behind closed doors for more than an hour with a group of state legislators following a speech in Little Rock and planned to hold two separate fundraisers, one at the Little Rock Zoo with young Democrats.

Clinton's campaign is expected to open an office in the state next month. The campaign points to the number of familiar faces in her campaign from Bill Clinton's days in the Arkansas governor's mansion, and eventually the White House, who are backing her bid. Clinton's campaign did not have any immediate estimate on how much it expected to raise during today's fundraising swing.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)