Clinton Courts New Hampshire Voters Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton makes New Hampshire the final stop on her campaign before the Christmas holiday. She is leading New Hampshire with the slimmest of margins. New Hampshire was once viewed as her firewall in the event of bad news in Iowa.
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Clinton Courts New Hampshire Voters

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Clinton Courts New Hampshire Voters

Clinton Courts New Hampshire Voters

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Senator Hillary Clinton made New Hampshire her final campaign stop before the holiday. Senator Clinton extended the tour that she started in Iowa, with her mother and her daughter.

In Iowa, she's in a tight three-way race - Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina. In New Hampshire, however, Senator Clinton seems to lead with the slimmest of margins according to the polls.

NPR's Audie Cornish followed the campaign yesterday and has this report.

AUDIE CORNISH: Despite empty shelves, the smell of apple-filled sugar cookies wuss through the air at the Carter Hill orchard and gift shop in Concord, New Hampshire. The store is shut down and cleared out for the holiday and for Hillary Clinton's campaign event, and the effect is that of an open house, where the realtors baked only to entice potential buyers inside. And in a way, Clinton is trying to entice potential independent voters like Brent Powell(ph) from Hopkinton.

Mr. BRETT POWELL: I'm sort of believing that Hillary has that experience going for her, but I'm also excited about the change being offered by Barack.

CORNISH: Clinton's rivals have cast her as a symbol of long-running Washington partisan battles, but the senator tried to flip the script with a New Hampshire bus tour titled: "Working for Change, Working for You."

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Well, some people believe you bring change by demanding it, and some people believe you can bring change by hoping for it. I believe that you can bring change by working really, really hard with a lot of people who share your hopes, dreams and goals. That's what I've done all my life. That is what I will do as your president.

(Soundbite of applause)

CORNISH: To that end, Clinton cast herself not just as an agent of change, but name checked Republicans - from Lindsey Graham to Newt Gingrich - inciting instances of her bipartisanship.

Sen. CLINTON: I will work across the party lines to get the big jobs of reforming health care and education and energy and global warming accomplished to make progress together. I can do that because it's what I've done for the last seven years.

CORNISH: This tour combined her efforts to soften her image and dissuade fears that she may be too partisan a figure to lead. Abby Crimm(ph), a still undecided voter from Concord, says she's more interested in the senator's stance on the issues.

Ms. ABBY CRIMM: She doesn't need to be my best friend. She needs to represent my country to the other countries of the world. She needs to regain - we need someone who could regain the confidence of our allies in Europe.

CORNISH: Obama and Edwards passed through the same communities this past week. The candidates are trying to reach the large of numbers of independent voters in the state. Clinton is working to slow the gains her competitors have made and shore up her support.

Last night, at a town hall-style event in Stratham, Janet Puff(ph) says she's definitely seen Clinton in a different light.

Ms. JANET PUFF: I was pretty much going to vote for Edwards because I really like him and I trust him. I think he is an honest guy and I really like what he says. But after hearing Hillary, I'm sold on Hillary, totally sold.

CORNISH: Puff is an independent voter from Lee.

Ms. PUFF: You know what, I think I have always heard that people say, oh, she's a, you know, pushy woman and, you know, we don't need someone like that. She's an insider. But what you really get from her is that she's compassionate, she's a hard worker, she is willing to work with Republicans, and I think she's just going to make the changes that our country needs.

CORNISH: But polls show that there are many more New Hampshire voters who are very much undecided, like Susan McQuaid(ph) from Hampton.

Ms. SUSAN McQUAID: Everyone has really the same views at this point. It's really comes down to gut feelings, I think, because everyone is going to say what they want - they think even - that you want to hear. So it comes down to the person (unintelligible) walking in on the ballot and making the choice. And I honestly vote no probably until I step in.

CORNISH: And that won't be until January 8th, when New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary takes place.

Audie Cornish, NPR News, Manchester.

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