Sen. Hillary Clinton went on the counterattack today, one day after a stinging defeat in the Iowa caucuses to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
She said New Hampshire voters need to take a hard look at Obama, suggesting that they shouldn't just buy into his message of "hope" without analyzing his policies.
Clinton said she wasn't suggesting anything in particular about Obama, but simply "drawing contrasts."
"I'm running on my record. … I'm running on my plans," Clinton told reporters. "I think everybody needs to be vetted and tested. That's the way elections are supposed to operate. The last thing the Democrats need is to just move quickly through this process."
While the senator was vague, her campaign pointed out to ABC News examples of Obama's liberal positions, including his 2004 statement to abolish mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes. They also pointed out a statement Obama made in 2003 that he was "a proponent of a single payer health care program," which he no longer seems to support today.
Clinton said voters need to ask Obama more questions about his health-care plan to find out "where he stands."
She also played off Obama's call offering America "hope."
"We need a president who will actually deliver change," she said. "It is critical that we build confidence in our country. We can't have false hopes. We've got to have a person who can walk into the Oval Office on day one and start doing the hard work that it takes to deliver change. And I believe I'm that person."
"I'm not doing this as an exercise," Clinton said.
Asked what she meant when she said earlier to a crowd in Nashua, N.H., that all of the vetting and investigations of her record had found her "most innocent," Clinton simply said: "I think I come into this race tested and proven and ready to take on the Republicans no matter what they send my way."
As for losing Iowa, she discounted the impact. "Iowa doesn't have the best track record in determining who the party nominates," Clinton said. She offered several explanations for the loss.
"I was never a front-runner of any significance in Iowa. I knew it had a lot of difficulties that were there in terms of my candidacy," she argued, perhaps referring to being the only female candidate in the race. "I knew it was always gonna be hard for me."
She admitted that her campaign lost support among younger Iowans.
"I think there was a huge turnout," Clinton said. "I did very very well with people over 45, and I didn't do as well with people under 30 and I take responsibility for that."
Clinton also faulted the caucus system for some of her troubles. She said that New Hampshire's primary vote would be more favorable for her since working voters have all day to show up and vote and don't have to arrive at a specific time required in Iowa under its unique caucus system.
In New Hampshire, Clinton explained, "you're not disenfranchised if you work at night. You're not disenfranchised if you're not in the state."
"This is a new day. This is a new state," Clinton said.
Former President Bill Clinton rallied to his wife's side today, saying Hillary's disappointing third-place finish in Iowa was not a fatal blow. He predicted that she can be the "comeback kid" just like he was. "Absolutely," he told ABC News at a campaign event for his wife.