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Reenergized Clinton Talks Poverty and Healthcare

Updated 9:11 a.m.
By Anne E. Kornblut
HANGING ROCK, Ohio -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in an emotional townhall with working mothers here on Thursday, said that her rival only wanted to provide health insurance to the women's children -- not the women themselves.

"He has a mandate to cover children; he does not have any requirement for adults," Clinton said afterwards at a news conference with reporters.

It was a sharp dig from Clinton just as her campaign was hoping to turn a corner heading into the March 4 contests here and in Texas. Clinton seemed, for the first time in days, to show new life. Fresh off the news that her campaign had raised $35 million in the last month, Clinton said the fundraising "says a lot" about the condition of her campaign. "Contributions are another way of judging" how much support a candidate has, Clinton said. "When people found out we didn't have the resources to compete, and I did put my own money in, it just set off a chain reaction across the country."

In the midst of a strong thematic push leading up to March 4, Clinton wound her way through the Appalachian edge of Ohio to talk about poverty and the economy -- and to demonstrate her gentler side, which was a factor in helping her win her last surprise victory, in New Hampshire on Jan. 8.

At the townhall in Hanging Rock, Clinton listened as downtrodden voters described their hardships. She introduced two women, a single, 21-year-old mother and an older mother of four, as examples of who would benefit from expanding childcare and healthcare programs. It was part of a forceful, if potentially belated, drive to demonstrate that she was far from pulling out of the contest that included not only the fundraising announcement but also proclamations by the campaign that organizations are up and running in Pennsylvania and Wyoming, which have contests in the weeks ahead.

Her events have been downscaled in recent days, taking place in smaller rooms, with limited and sometimes invitation-only crowds that paled in comparison to the massive mobs that Obama was bringing out to stadium-sized venues. But her campaign advisers said it was by design, giving Clinton a chance to look more personable and connect with people. And she did appear at ease, well within her comfort zone of discussing policies and other people's problems -- rather than her struggling campaign.

At her news conference, Clinton declined to criticize the media coverage of her campaign as she and her advisers have done repeatedly in the past. "I'm going to leave that to you, that's your job," she said, asked what, exactly, she felt the media had failed to ask about Obama. "I'm just saying that I'm running my campaign and that's all I can do; that's all I have any control over."

Late Thursday, Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor reacted to news of Clinton's critique of Obama's health coverage plan. "Senator Clinton knows that anyone who wants health care under Senator Obama's plan will have it, and that his plan does more to cut costs than any other that's been proposed, " he said. "President Clinton's former Secretary of Labor even said that his plan would cover more people than hers. The difference between the two plans is that Senator Clinton would force even those who can't afford health insurance to buy it."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 28, 2008; 7:17 PM ET
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