Clinton Campaigning with Renewed Vigor
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Well, the conventions are still several months off in late summer. And very few people would have foreseen the current political situation when the candidates were stumping across snowy Iowa last fall. But here we are talking about Democratic presidential primaries coming up in May.
This week, Hillary Clinton's win in the Pennsylvania primary refreshed her energy and her bank account on the way to primaries in Indiana and North Carolina in 11 days.
NPR's David Greene is covering the campaign.
DAVID GREENE: The mood of Hillary Clinton, the candidate, has been in flux these past few weeks. She was angry in Ohio.
Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): Shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public.
GREENE: In Pennsylvania, she was often reaching out to women.
Sen. CLINTON: I think I should get some extra points, you know, because it takes me so much longer to get ready than the men.
GREENE: And she's always coming up with a new line. Here she was in Pennsylvania talking about her opponent criticizing the 1990s.
Sen. CLINTON: Which part of it didn't he like, the peace or the prosperity? Because I liked both.
GREENE: Yesterday, Clinton landed in Fayetteville, North Carolina, right near Fort Bragg, and the campaign gave her a whole new backdrop. The pop music they usually play before rallies was gone, instead…
(Soundbite of children pledging allegiance)
Unidentified Group: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
GREENE: A patriotic theme. Young children honored the flag and retired military officers join Clinton on stage. She used this moment to say that picking a commander in chief is very serious.
Sen. CLINTON: It's got to be an election where voters actually understand the consequences of their votes. We cannot have a leap of faith or any guesswork in this election.
GREENE: Or any break for that matter. The post-Pennsylvania Clinton has been in hyperdrive - traveling without rest, chiding her rival for not agreeing to yet another debate.
Sen. CLINTON: Look, I'm so sleep deprived, it doesn't matter - anytime, anywhere, I'll show up.
GREENE: And her campaign has executed plays long-planned assuming a win in Pennsylvania. They've gone after superdelegates, telling them Obama has problems attracting working white people. They tapped donors for more than $10 million in new cash and yet the harder they press, the more easygoing their candidate sounds.
Ms. JENNIFER DEARMAN (College Student): She's very relaxed, she's very down to earth. So, that was really good..
GREENE: Jennifer Dearman is an 18-year-old college student who saw Clinton in North Carolina. She said she's an undecided voter, and she says she's eager to see Obama when he comes back to her state. Her advice to Obama is not to sound like a frontrunner.
Ms. DEERMAN: He needs to low. There's still a chance I may lose, so I need to come down, I need to work my hardest.
GREENE: That may be what Obama needs to do to impress Jennifer. But his is not a campaign that changes all that much.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): Thank you. Thank you so much.
GREENE: He draws huge and curious crowds like this one outside Pittsburgh. And he has a star quality.
Sen. OBAMA: Is that your question, just an autograph?
Unidentified Woman #1: That's right.
Sen. OBAMA: Okay, I'll sign them afterwards. Go ahead.
GREENE: Obama's ideas and speeches have been a magnet for young voters and independents. When he arrives on the landscape, he changes it moving the polls with his message and money. He lost in Pennsylvania, but he first erased much of what had been the Clinton lead. And knowing he had lost, he went on to Indiana with pretty much the same speech he's been giving all along.
Sen. OBAMA: I'm running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now…
When we've got black, white, Hispanic, Asian, young, old, working together, change happens from the bottom up not from the top down.
American people all across the country are standing up and they're saying, we're ready to turn the page. We're ready…
GREENE: After the crowd cleared, a reporter asked Obama about Clinton's contrast calling herself the fighter, implying he can't handle the heat of the campaign. Obama's response…
Sen. OBAMA: We have been pretty tame in terms of, you know, taking our shots and just rolling with them.
GREENE: If he was shaken by the loss in Pennsylvania, he wasn't showing it.
Sen. OBAMA: You know, in fact, I think that one thing that's characterized our campaign is that we don't get too up when we're up and we don't get too down when we're down. We just keep on plugging away and talking to the American people about the issues that they care about the most.
GREENE: Thus far this steady style has been seen as successful, but it's being tested now like never before.
David Greene, NPR News.
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