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Saving the Best for Last

By Jonathan Weisman
The debate in Austin veered from cordial to contentious, then back to cordial, but Hillary Rodham Clinton saved perhaps her best, warmest moment for last.

Asked to recount the most trying moments of their lives, Barack Obama recounted his days as a community organizer in Chicago.

But Clinton could evoke a moment that most of the nation shared, an oblique reference to the trials of her husband's administration, especially his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

"I think everyone knows I've lived through some crises and some challenging moments in my life," she said with a knowing smile, eliciting laughter and applause.

But rather than resting there, she made it clear that was nothing compared to the trials other Americans have suffered through, trials that she honored with her recounting. She spoke of her invitation to open the Intrepid Center at Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio, when wounded soldiers entered the auditorium without limbs, some in wheelchairs, some on gurneys. She was introduced by a speaker whose face had been disfigured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, she recounted, her eyes misting.

"You know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored," she said, as the two leaned toward each other and shook hands. "Whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that's what this election should be about."

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By Web Politics Editor  |  February 21, 2008; 10:02 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , The Debates  
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