Clinton Swings: How Hillary Got Her Rove Back

And at an evening event at the Bluegrass Cafe in Tama, where the album covers of Sammy Hagar, ZZ Top and Bob Seger hung on a wall above Clinton’s “Turn Up the Heat” campaign posters, she sounded almost angry when she said, “Everywhere you look, the economic polices of George Bush have been bad for the middle class. There is no way to get around it.”

When asked about the sharply divided American public, she responded, “I think history will judge George Bush very harshly, because he pursued a divisive political agenda instead of a unifying political agenda. He was more interested in scoring partisan points than pulling us together as a nation.”

She argued that she had made peace with many of her old Republican enemies.

“I am looking for away to isolate the negativity,” she said. “To diminish the extreme political positions. America is not a country of extremism; we’re centrists.”

But seconds later, she showed a flash of the ruthlessness her Democratic rivals have been complaining about.

“We can surround them and we can defeat them,” she said of [enemy] special interest groups. “And we can isolate, and we can marginalize them, because they have been after me for 15 years, and I’m still here, and I’m still standing.”

Perhaps her sharpest attack of all came on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 20, at an event she didn’t even show up for. Supporters had packed into a firehouse in Shenandoah to hear Mrs. Clinton speak, but her plane was stuck at an airport in Omaha, where she had been diverted because of fog.

After a while, people started to file out, but Mrs. Clinton did eventually manage to address the remaining attendees by speakerphone. She began with some standard pleasantries, discussed a proposal to safeguard America’s food supply and then segued, rather abruptly, into the subject of experience.

“Now voters will judge whether living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big complex international challenges the next president will face,” she said, in an unmistakable reference to the unusually cosmopolitan upbringing of Mr. Obama, which he recently cited as a source of foreign policy expertise. “I think we need a president with more experience than that.”