In yet another post-Iowa press conference, Hillary Clinton answered reporters’ questions in Nashua for 19 minutes, talking about everything from her vote on the war in Iraq, her meeting with Rudy Giuliani on the stage between debates last night, the cross on her bracelet, her refusal to look back at Iowa and Barack Obama’s “four pollsters.”
She shrugged off a question about her statement at a campaign event here only minutes earlier that she would not have gone to war if she had been president, saying “You know I’ve said that many times.” She added, “Clearly at the time that vote took place I said it wasn’t a vote for preemptive war.”
She once again attacked Obama and John Edwards on what she said has said is a rhetoric that does not match reality, and when asked why she waited until after losing Iowa to make those contrasts, said, “I thought it was time to draw the contrast.” New Hampshire voters, she said, were famously independent, and “They want to know answers.”
When asked how she could stand up to a movement like that surrounding Obama by running a campaign based on “Mark Penn poll-tested talking points,” she responded, “I don’t know, but I think Senator Obama has four pollsters.”
She also refused to answer a question about why she lost the womens’ vote in Iowa, (something campaign officials have privately blamed on Penn) by saying that her focus now was entirely on New Hampshire and “if a campaign doesn’t evolve it is probably dead, and I don’t intend for it to be anything other than a winning campaign.”
There were also lighter questions, and lighter moments. She was asked about her meeting with Rudy Giuliani on the stage last night between Republican and Democratic debates at Anselm College in Manchester.
“Obviously I know Mayor Giuliani quite well,” she said. “He said, ‘Oh. My Senator.’ I said, ‘What, do you need some case work?’ It was good to see him actually.”
When asked if the charm on her bracelet was of a crucifix, she said, “It’s a cross.” When the questioner followed up by asking if it had any secular significance, she joked, “Talk about the secular press.”
She batted back Chris Mathews’ aggressive questioning by reminding him that she wasn’t on his show, but after the presser, she patted him on the face like an Italian grandmother.
She responded to a question about her campaign blaming a timid media for its travails by saying, tongue in cheek, “I would never ever accuse the media of anything–I wouldn’t even think it.” Laughter spread through the assembled press corps, and Clinton herself smiled. Then she said, seriously, “I don’t share that. I mean, look, this is a decision for all of you to make. You decide who you are going to cover, how you are going to cover us and what you are going to say. But the debate last night was a defining moment.”
UPDATE: Koblin has more on the Chris Matthews moment here.