Clinton Campaign in Crisis?

Former front-runner now hopes to be "comeback kid."

ByABC News
January 4, 2008, 5:12 PM

Jan. 4, 2008— -- Inside a frigid airplane hangar in Nashua, N.H., Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., tried to reframe the choice before New Hampshire voters, asking them if they wanted "an untested man who offers false hope or a woman who's electable."

Clinton said, "Of all the people running for president, I've been the most vetted, the most investigated and my goodness the most innocent, it turns out."

This morning, Clinton told her staff she wanted to answer voters here to avoid appearing inaccessible, something campaign insiders believe was part of the reason she lost younger voters in Iowa.

State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, said, "I think she has to enhance the likability quotient. That trust that she will do the job that the American people want."

Clinton is trying with all her might to stop Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., from becoming an unstoppable force.

At a packed coffeehouse in Manchester today, Clinton said to voters, "I'll need your help Tuesday" and issued a direct warning to voters not to be drawn in by Obama's allure without digging deeper into his policies.

"On a lot of these issues it is hard to know where he stands, and people need to ask that," she said.

Aiming at Obama's signature rhetoric, Clinton said what America needs is someone who can "actually deliver change" not "false hopes."

While the senator was vague, her campaign pointed out to ABC News examples of Obama's liberal positions. In 2004, Obama said he would vote to abolish mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes. "Mandatory minimums take too much discretion away from judges," Obama said in an NAACP debate.

The Clinton campaign also accused Obama of flip-flopping. They pointed to a statement Obama made in 2003 that he was "a proponent of a single-payer healthcare program." Obama is not calling for a single-payer plan now.

A spokesman for Obama called the charges false attacks.

"The Clinton campaign's false, negative attacks were rejected by Iowa voters, and we expect that they'll suffer the same fate here in New Hampshire," said Bill Burton.

Obama's campaign also argues that he has always supported the ideal of a single-payer healthcare plan and has never strayed from that belief.

"Obama has consistently said that single-payer healthcare is a good idea in principle at the federal level, but that we need to build on the system we have rather than start from scratch," Burton said.

Clinton advisers suggested that part of the reason for her showing at the polls in Iowa might have been Iowa's reluctance to support female candidates. They also pointed out that a victory in Iowa does not guarantee success on the path to the White House. There is, after all, no President Richard Gephardt.

Bill Clinton said that his wife could be a "comeback kid" like he was, pointing to his defeats in New Hampshire, and his other losses in South Dakota, Maine, Maryland and Colorado.