Amid Troublesome Polls, Clinton Makes Her Case to New Hampshire Women

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands with Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthoods president, during an event on Jan. 10, 2016, in Hooksett, N.H., held by the group to publicly endorse Clinton.Steven Senne/AP Photo
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands with Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, during an event on Jan. 10, 2016, in Hooksett, N.H., held by the group to publicly endorse Clinton.

Amid pink shirts, loud cheers and heavy security, Hillary Clinton accepted the endorsement of Planned Parenthood’s political arm on Sunday.

The event at Southern New Hampshire University marked the first time the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has backed a presidential candidate in a primary, according to president Cecile Richards, who traveled across New Hampshire to rally volunteers afterwards.

"We don't need just a friend, a solid vote, a supporting statement," said Richards, pitching Clinton as the candidate best qualified to defend the group in Washington. "We need a fighter."

The fight for New Hampshire has become a particularly nerve-wracking one for the Clinton campaign, as conflicting polls this weekend showed her either neck-and-neck with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or trailing him by as many as 13 points in the state. According to a Fox News poll released Friday, Sanders leads by 23 points among Democratic men, which in turn has prompted Clinton to turn to her female base.

In addition to Richards, Clinton has deployed notable women, like U.S. soccer icon Abby Wambach and television star Lena Dunham, to campaign on her behalf in the Granite State. Her daughter Chelsea Clinton is slated to arrive on Tuesday, and former President Bill Clinton will make several stops Wednesday near the Vermont border, where "Bernie for President" yard signs are prevalent.

Clinton did not mention Sanders by name Sunday, but her message to Planned Parenthood supporters was clear: In a general election that will undoubtedly feature a Republican committed to defunding the organization, Democratic voters can't take chances.

"You know, every election is important, but this one poses such a stark choice, and the stakes are so high," she said. "We need a Democratic nominee who will be able to beat the Republicans and get the job done for Americans. I shudder to think about what the Republicans would do if given the chance."

The pro-choice argument resonates with many New Hampshire voters. In 2012, exit polls suggested that 71 percent of voters thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The rally today was attended by Planned Parenthood advocates from across the Northeast, with busloads of supporters arriving from Maine, Massachusetts and New York.

One of those guests was Janeen Lopez, a director of clinical and surgical services at a Planned Parenthood facility in Brooklyn, N.Y. She told ABC News she didn't think of Sanders as any less of a "fighter" for women than Clinton.

"I don't think that's necessarily the case," she said. "But I think a lot of us worry about viability. And Hillary has a proven track record."

That might be music to the Clinton camp’s ears, but so far, the tune has been lost on New Hampshire voters.