Clinton Fires Back: Obama, Edwards Given 'Free Ride'

`Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is an experienced leader. That's the message she's been attempting to drive home to voters since announcing her bid for the presidency nearly one year ago.

But now Clinton, who lost the Iowa caucus to not one but two Democratic rivals, stands on the verge of another potential upset in New Hampshire.

The intense pressure on candidates was underscored Monday when Clinton choked up while answering a question during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

In an interview just hours after that emotional moment, Clinton told ABC News' Diane Sawyer it wasn't so unusual, insisting, "I care about what is going on in peoples lives. That's how I got involved in this kind of work. That's what I think a president should be concerned about. And there's a lot of concern and worry and just people hoping and praying that their problems are gonna be solved."

Campaigning Monday before the first-in-the-nation primary, the former first lady got emotional and had tears in her eyes as she spoke with voters about how hard it is to balance a busy campaign life, and her passion for the country's future.

"It's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country I just don't want to see us fall backwards," she said.

With her voice breaking and tears in her eyes, Clinton continued, "You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it."

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'Free Ride' for Obama and Edwards

Sawyer also addressed gender issues with Clinton, asking whether it's different when a woman — particularly a presidential candidate or president — shows that kind of emotion.

"Well, men do it all the time," Clinton told Sawyer, "and we've had that going back at least since Ronald Reagan, I guess, and certainly since then."

Clinton also took the opportunity to take a shot at her Democratic rivals Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards.

She said the two men have formed "kinda a buddy system."

"You know for both Sen. Edwards and Obama, they've been given pretty much a free ride and that's fine," Clinton said. "I don't mind having to get up there and take all the scrutiny. But at some point the free ride ends, maybe it ends now, maybe it ends in a month maybe it ends in the general election. You cannot be elected president if you do not withstand the tough questions."

The two-term senator acknowledged she's in unfamiliar territory — for the nation and as a candidate.

"Look, I'm charting new ground — I know that and you know it's a little bit of a challenge which I fully accept and I'm ready to meet."

Clinton, who took few questions from reporters in Iowa and little more from voters, has changed strategy in New Hampshire, emphasizing a softer side to a person well known to much of the American public.

"I think that Americans know that the people who are running for president are going to put forward who they are and I'm somebody who deeply cares about what's going on and I am incredibly passionate about what we need to do in our country," Clinton told Sawyer on location for "Good Morning America."

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