Thursday night in Austin, Texas, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton ended what was expected to be a fiery debate with Democratic rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on an unexpectedly soft note.
"Whatever happens," Clinton said Thursday night, "we're going to be fine."
This morning on "Good Morning America," Clinton explained the moment, telling Diane Sawyer she was referring not to what happens to her and Obama individually after the race but what happens to the American people she's met on the campaign trail.
"Running for office, especially nationally, gives you such an intimate look with what's going on in people's lives. It just gets me up and motivates me to try and figure out that I'm going to do to help people who are trying as hard as they can."
Clinton also responded to recent comments made by her husband, former President Clinton, who told a crowd in the Lone Star State that losses in Ohio and Texas would doom her presidential bid.
"This race is very close, it's very contested," Clinton said, "I've won some, he's won some. Each of us has to get to 2025 delegates. So of course every single race is important."
Stressing the critical nature of the races, Ohio and Texas among them, Clinton continued when pushed on her husband's comments, "I don't make predictions. I'm just going to wait and see what happens. After all, we have to give the voters a chance to be heard."
Clinton didn't elaborate, but said she's been having "conversations" with former presidential candidate John Edwards, citing their shared criticism of Obama's health-care plan.
After challenging Obama to weekly debates and ridiculing him in a television advertisement for refusing to debate her, Clinton finally had her chance to go "mano a mano" with Obama in Texas Thursday.
But she did not use the opportunity to strike a game-changing blow. Her final comment of the night — after an hour and 40 minutes of debate — that drew the biggest response.
Asked to talk about the moment in their lives "that tested you the most," Clinton said: "I think everybody here knows I've lived through some crises and some challenging moments in my life."
She then said that no matter how bad things have seemed in her life, no matter how tough the challenges, it was nothing compared to what is happening in the lives of Americans every single day.
Clinton reflected on visiting wounded warriors in Texas recently — veterans who arrived in wheelchairs and on gurneys, a speaker who lost part of his face to a roadside bomb.
"You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country," she said.
The call to serve others less fortunate is what "gets me up in the morning," she added. "That's what keeps me going."
And then her voice softened.
"No matter what happens in this contest — and I am honored. I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored," she said, and reached across the desk for Obama's hand.
Given the tight nomination battle she finds herself in, some may read that comment as a poignant admission that she may not end up as the party's nominee.
But just after the debate ended, Clinton's communications director crowed that the final moment was a defining moment for Clinton.