Last night’s debate was not a fluke.
Hillary Clinton is wagering the success of her campaign in New Hampshire, and possibly her entire candidacy, on her ability to destroy the reputations of Barack Obama and John Edwards as change-makers.
After building them up as making a “tremendous contribution to this campaign” and offering “service to our country,” in a Nashua high school just now, she fervently went about the business of knocking them down.
“But there are differences and differences are important,” said Clinton, surrounded by packed bleachers and American flags. “It is important for you to have the facts.”
These, as Clinton sees it, are the facts and how they undercut her rivals’ claims as change agents.
Targeting Obama, she said, “If you give a speech saying you are going to vote against the Patriot Act and you don’t, that’s not change,” to big applause. “If you say you are going to prevent members of Congress from having lunch with lobbyists sitting down, but they can still have lunch standing up, that’s not change.” And this: “If you gave a speech—and a very good speech—against the war in Iraq in 2002 and then by 2004 you’re saying you’re not sure how you would have voted, and by 2005 six and seven you’ve voted for $300 billion for the war you said you’re against, that’s not change.”
And she did not forget about Edwards, especially after he returned to the role of Clinton-baiter in last night’s debate. “If you say that you passed the Patients’ Bill of Rights and forget to add that it never got passed into law, that’s not change,” Clinton said. She said, “If you ran against the special interests like the oil companies” and other big businesses, “but you voted for Dick Cheney’s energy bill, that’s not change.”
Before launching into a lengthy question and answer period, Clinton made her New Hampshire message absolutely clear: “I want to give you a president who will give you change you can count on.”