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Hillary in Nashua: I'm Vetted

True story: I was interviewing a couple of college students last night in Derry. Suddenly my cellphone rang. A vaguely familiar voice said: "Mr. Achenbach? Jesse Jackson."

I excused myself from the college students (we reporters are constantly being called on our cells by major national figures). I'd called Rev. Jackson a while back for my 1968 essay. We talked for a few minutes and he said that the sub-prime mortgage crisis is going to play a huge role in the campaign ahead. "This is a big deal," he said. "This is so big that a Saudi businessman had to bail out Citigroup....This is a BIG DEAL....The winning horse must link his or her wagon to this issue."

I want back to the college students and made sure that they were suitably impressed.


[Cross-posted from The Trail]

8:23 a.m. NASHUA

We're at the Nashua airport, waiting for Hillary to show up in this aircraft hangar, which has two enormous American flags (maybe we're in the hangar because no other venue had enough flag space) and a red, white and blue painted bus that says Big Challenges, Real Solutions. As is typical at contemporary political events, there are countless reporters sitting on folding chairs staring into their laptops. They could conceivably be mingling with the ordinary citizens, but technology enables them (um, us) to be not really here. We're partially here, partially on our blogs. But I'm going to buck the system and go, right now, and find a citizen, and take the pulse of the people.
Found her: Sandy Adams. She's an Obama supporter. She's here because she runs the café next door to the hangar. Most of her clients are pilots and military types who like McCain and hate Hillary.
"There's lots of ignorant points of view. When someone says [Obama] can't be elected because he's black, that drives me crazy," she says.
Why doesn't she prefer Sen. Clinton?
"She's tarnished, because she's been in Washington, her husband's been in Washington. She's been involved with lobbyists. She'll be the same old thing. The same old Washington as usual."
Hopefully none of these Hillary supporters overheard.

[Bill and Chelsea accompany Hillary to the stage. Bill says they flew in at 4:30 in the morning. "I think my girls look good, don't you?" the former president said. He didn't stay on stage long and Chelsea didn't say anything. Unspoken message: This is Hillary's to win or lose.]

NASHUA, 9:33 a.m.

Hillary's holding forth in the hangar, and she's running on electability! Goodbye, Inevitability, hello, Electability.

She has posed two questions: Who will be the best president of the United States, ready to lead from Day One? And who will be able to withstand the Republican attacks in the general election?

"I don't think the Republicans are going to wake up after we nominate our candidate and say, you know, we have messed up this country so much, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves... One thing you know about me, is that after 16 years of taking all their incoming fire, I am still here... I have been through the fires. Anybody that we nominate will be thrown right into that blazing inferno we know as the general election."

Wait, there's more along those lines, during the Q & A:

"My goodness, I've been accused of everything.... I've been the most vetted, the most investigated...the most innocent."

In contrast to...?

Is there some other candidate who's on her mind this morning?

If she gets desperate her motto will be: "What do you REALLY know about Obama?"

After the rally I ran into some of the Arkansas Travelers, folks who have known the Clintons for decades and who are fanning out across New Hampshire in vans to knock on doors. I mentioned to Harry Truman Moore, who first met Hillary in 1974, that seemed to really be emphasizing her ability to survive scrutiny. He said, "She's been under a political colonoscopy. She's been looked at any way she could be looked at. And she's withstood it."

She's hoping for a '92 replay. She said this morning that it took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, she wants to be the Clinton who cleans up after the second. She noted that in 1992, when campaigning here, people were suffering from job losses and home foreclosures. There's an "It's the economy, stupid" echo in her stump speech. She said on the way here this morning she got the jobs report by email.

"Guess what, unemployment is up. And I predict to you that we are just at the beginning of a very tough economic year."

Which historically is good for a Clinton in New Hampshire.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 4, 2008; 11:02 AM ET
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