Byline: Eric Krol Daily Herald Political Writer
Democratic U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton continued her attempt at a potential presidential political makeover Tuesday night by quoting Republican Ronald Reagan and calling for the rebuilding of the middle class during a Chicago speech.
"Profits have increased, but wages have declined. The costs of a middle-class life - education, health care transportation, retirement - are all increasing," the New York lawmaker told the Economic Club of Chicago, which packed 2,800 people into a sold-out ballroom at a downtown hotel.
"Our essential bargain with the middle class is breaking down. People who work hard and contribute should feel that they're not just running in place."
Clinton also used the 57-minute speech, billed as a major economic address, to call for a national investment board, national energy research program that oil companies would pay for and an unspecified increase in the minimum wage.
The speech unfolded as political speculation centers on a Clinton White House bid in 2008. That's a topic Clinton might not address until after she stands for re-election to the Senate in November. National polls show the 58-year-old product of Park Ridge as the early favorite in a Democratic primary, but also that her polarizing past makes the general election an uphill climb.
With that backdrop, Clinton derided the current "red ink" spending policies in Washington, quoting Reagan who warned that the nation's economic future could be secured if budget deficits were reduced.
She also suggested that tax cuts alone can't save the middle class. …