Hillary Clinton told members of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce in October 2000 that she would create 200,000 new jobs in Upstate New York if they elected her to be their next senator.
She said the Upstate economy was "the most important issue in this race" and she played off of that Western New York city's name to ask "where's the beef?" in her opponent's plan.
For eight years, some people who live and work in Upstate New York have not allowed their senator to forget that pledge as they watch companies leave the region.
In 2003, Mary Ann Throup wrote a letter to the Press & Sun Bulletin in Binghamton: "Is anyone keeping track of her efforts on our behalf? Where, oh where, are those 200,000 jobs?"
The question has followed Clinton from the Southern Tier to the North Country, Central New York to Western New York. Now, it haunts her in places such as St. Louis and Cleveland as she makes a new promise in her campaign for president.
This time, Clinton promises 5 million new jobs in 10 years if Americans will elect her to be the next president.
Lots of politicians make promises during campaigns. But Clinton's experience shows it is a risk to attach specific numbers to those promises, especially when the numbers can be checked.
Anyone with an Internet connection can look at state labor reports that show exactly how many jobs have left each region since Clinton took office: about 12,500 in the Buffalo region; 3,200 in the Syracuse area.
Upstate New York has lost 23,300 jobs between December 2000 and December 2007, the records show.
This month, a Buffalo News reporter caught up to Clinton in St. Louis and asked if she regretted that 2000 campaign pledge. She said, "Well, I might have been a little exuberant, but I thought we could do it," she told the paper.
Tuesday, the question followed Clinton to Ohio, where she debated Sen. Barack Obama.
NBC's Tim Russert, a Buffalo native, held up Clinton's "economic blueprint" for the 21st century, the little book of promises she says people should use to hold her accountable.
How can she promise the country 5 million new jobs when she has not delivered the 200,000 jobs she promised Upstate New Yorkers eight years ago?
"Tonight will you say that the pledge of 5 million jobs might be a little exuberant?" he asked.
She gave Russert the same answer she gave The Post-Standard editorial board two years ago: When she promised 200,000 jobs, she thought Al Gore would be the next president.
"When I made the pledge, I was counting on having a Democratic White House, a Democratic president who shared my values about what we needed to do to make the economy work for everyone and to create shared prosperity," she said in Tuesday's debate. "And as you know, despite the difficulties of the Bush administration and a Republican Congress for six years of my first term, I have worked very hard to create jobs, but obviously as president I will have more tools at my disposal."
In other settings, Clinton has also blamed New York state lawmakers.
The Rochester Business Journal brought up the issue in summer 2006. "Upstate, your target was to add 200,000 jobs. At best, we're treading water," editors told the senator.
Clinton said the region has some obstacles that must be tackled by state government. That includes high state and local taxes, high energy costs and transportation problems.
"So, we've got some peculiarly state and local obstacles that have to be dealt with, primarily from Albany," she said.
Now, people in Ohio and Wisconsin and pundits in Washington are holding Clinton accountable for jobs lost in Upstate New York.
A blog run by a Cincinnati Republican said, "Hillary Blames Empty Unkept Promise on Everyone Else."
The Ohio and Texas primaries Tuesday could decide whether Clinton continues to run for president or returns to her job as U.S. senator from New York.