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Underdog Clinton Goes After Obama
"Words are not actions," she said. "And as beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are, they are not action. You know, what we've got to do is translate talk into action and feeling into reality. I have a long record of doing that, of taking on the very interests that you have just rightly excoriated because of the overdue influence that they have in our government."
She said: "You said you would vote against the Patriot Act. You came to the Senate, you voted for it. You said that you would vote against funding for the Iraq war; you came to the Senate and you voted for $300 billion of it."
"I think that we should get into examining everybody's record," she said.
Obama accused Clinton of distorting his record and said voters in New Hampshire will not reward anyone for doing that. "What I think the people of America are looking for are folks who are going to be straight about the issues, and are going to be interested in solving problems and bringing people together," Obama said.
Clinton charged Obama with inconsistency on health care and questioned his plan not to mandate that all Americans buy health insurance. Obama responded that there was a philosophical difference, saying he does not believe that a mandate is necessary because it is the cost of insurance that keeps people from buying it, not a lack of desire to do so.
But Clinton immediately challenged him by pointing out that his plan includes a mandate that parents buy insurance for their children. "Because they don't have a choice," Obama replied.
"Well, they don't have a choice, and you're going to make sure that parents get health care for children," Clinton said. "So, you know, you stopped short of going the distance to make sure that we had a system that could actually deliver health care for everyone."
When she charged that Obama has not been specific about issues, he sought to turn the tables on her, saying he and Edwards have addressed the financial problems of Social Security by calling for raising the cap on wages covered by the payroll tax to force wealthy Americans to pay more.
"You criticized me for that, which is fine," he said. "We have a disagreement on that, but that's hardly because I wasn't specific on it. I was very specific on it."
The stage seemed to divide in half at moments, with Obama and Edwards, the first- and second-place winners of the Iowa caucuses, lining up against Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who defended the virtues of experience.
Clinton sharpened her case that she has been on the receiving end of so many special-interest attacks that she knows how to fend them off.
And with the nomination on the line, Clinton explicitly mentioned gender as part of her appeal. "I think I am an agent of change. I embody change," she said. "I think having the first woman president is a huge change, with consequences across the country and the world." The audience at Saint Anselm College erupted in cheers.