Clinton seeks to start public service academy if elected to White House

COLUMBIA -- U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton said Saturday that, if elected president, she will call on "a new generation of Americans to serve."

Clinton made her comments in wrapping up the three-day College Democrats of America convention at the University of South Carolina.

The leader in polls among Democratic presidential candidates for 2008, Clinton told several hundred cheering young Democrats that the next presidential election is about new leadership but also "a new citizenship" that defines who we are as a nation.

She said six years under Republican President Bush have led to U.S. "alienation around the world" and "incompetence and indifference here at home."

Clinton, who has been elected to the U.S. Senate twice from New York, said she wants to create a public service academy designed to inspire young Americans to serve others.

"We are a good and great nation," Clinton said. "We can restore America's image around the world. Let's do it together."

Clinton had control of the crowd from the outset. Relaxed and speaking calmly, Clinton blasted the Bush administration for "denial and defiance" of global warming and for threatening to veto an expanded children's health insurance program under consideration in Congress.

She called the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina "a national disgrace" and "an indictment."