"I'm not a psychiatrist," Clinton said. "I don't know all of the reasons behind their concern, some might even say their obsession, other than you've gotta remember that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and President Bush's father had been been tangling with Saddam Hussein in Iraq before."
But Clinton faced some tough questions, given her shifting position on the war and the contrast her previous years of studied centrism pose to her current rhetoric.
"I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance, you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake," said Democratic voter Roger Tillton. "Until we hear you say that, we are not going to hear all of those other great things you are saying."
"I have taken responsibility for my vote," Clinton responded. "The mistakes were made by this president who misled the Congress."
The crowd applauded enthusiastically.
Both appeals can be risky.
Clinton's approach is the more traditional one taken by candidates trying to appeal to partisan voters who will decide who will represent their party in the presidential contest. But it also risks alienating moderate and independent voters who already, polling suggests, are wary of her and see her as polarizing.
Obama, on the other hand, is attempting a message that has been tried before. Former Sens. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., in 2000, Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., in 1992, and Gary Hart, D-Colo., in 1984 and 1988, all attempted third-way, above-the-fray campaigns. Not one of them won their party's presidential nomination.
Eloise Harper, Greg McCown and Katie Hinman contributed to this report.