Democratic Candidates Cross Paths at Dinner With only three days before the New Hampshire primary, presidential candidates are rushing around the state so fast it can be hard to catch them. But Friday night, almost all of the Democratic contenders managed to be in the same hall in Milford.
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Democratic Candidates Cross Paths at Dinner

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Democratic Candidates Cross Paths at Dinner

Democratic Candidates Cross Paths at Dinner

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

As NPR's Robert Smith reports, the event turned into a full-contact sport.

ROBERT SMITH: Unidentified Man #1: Please welcome to the stage, Senator Hillary Clinton.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING CROWD)

SMITH: It seemed like the evening might just be a fun practice game for the candidates, until Clinton began to charge at her opponents. First, a little friendly elbow on Barack Obama's theme of change and hope.

HILLARY CLINTON: Some people think you make change by demanding it, and some people think you make change by hoping for it. I think you make change by working really, really hard and...

SMITH: The Obama supporters, back at the cheap tables near the goal lines, started to boo. Clinton had promised that after finishing third, she would be more aggressive about taking on Obama, and sure enough she butted again, this time in reference to Obama's health care proposal that doesn't mandate coverage for everyone.

CLINTON: Would I leave out the young couple from Manchester who have their own business, whom I met door-knocking and are wondering whether they're going to be able to afford health care for themselves and their children?

SMITH: Unidentified Group: Obama. Obama. Obama.

SMITH: Unidentified Man #2: For safety concerns, before we can proceed, please take your seats.

(SOUNDBITE OF GROANING CROWD)

SMITH: With all these chaos on the soccer field, Obama himself appeared. He couldn't have asked for a better metaphor. Whereas, Clinton never mentioned the four-letter word Iowa, Obama was happy to rub it in.

BARACK OBAMA: We expanded the reach of the Democratic Party by rallying not just the tried and true Democrat, but the independent and even the Republican to our cause by bringing in more young people into the caucus process than at anytime in the history of the Iowa caucuses.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING CROWD)

SMITH: Stephanie Powers(ph), a Clinton volunteer from Washington, D.C., said she's still amazed by all these young women who've abandoned the chance to elect a female president.

STEPHANIE POWERS: I saw younger women. They should have been through the struggle.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

POWERS: They ought to get on their knees and thank her for all the work that she did and for those of us who are in her age group because we've paved the way. And you know what, it's a lot easier now.

SMITH: Robert Smith, NPR News, Manchester.

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