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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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February 23, 2008 12:49 PM

"Real" Clinton emerges in Ohio and Texas

Posted by David Postman

AKRON, Ohio - Voters in Ohio started to see a new TV commercial from Hillary Clinton today that her supporters say shows the real Clinton.

That’d be the emotional, religious and humble Clinton from the final moments of her debate this week with Barack Obama, not the Clinton full of facts, figures and policies she recites with a dose of braggadocio.

The 60 seconds of political verite - the commercial uses an edited clip from the debate - presents voters with the third real candidate Clinton just since the New Year. It was last month after her win in New Hampshire that Clinton said she had “found my own voice” after losing to Obama in Iowa and was now speaking from the heart.

I said then that Clinton needed to show that “her real voice sounds different than what we’ve all heard for a year.” I don’t think she did that, and this ad is clearly the latest, and probably last, attempt to show a different side of Clinton. The ad is one of several new spots airing in Ohio and Texas. It comes 10 days before Democrats in those states get their say in the closely-matched race between Clinton and Obama.

The ad, which the campaign calls “Resolved” uses Clinton’s final statement from the debate in Austin, Texas. She speaks about being at the opening of a veteran’s medical center in San Antonio and watching wounded military personnel come in with missing limbs, in wheelchairs and gurneys.

She says:

You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country. And I resolved, at a very young age, that I'd been blessed, and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted. That's what gets me up in the morning, that's what motivates me in this campaign.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said this morning that the ad “will show something about Senator Clinton’s character.” Strickland, talking to reporters in a conference call organized by the Clinton campaign, said he watched the debate with his wife and told her during Clinton’s statement:

That is the Hillary Clinton I know and it is the Hillary Clinton I think America needs to know.

Texas State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said Clinton’s staetment “was an unbelievable moment - a moment you see very rarely in politics.” She told reporters it shows “the real Hillary Clinton.”

The campaign has been excited about the candidate’s comments since moments after she delivered them in Austin. Campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson sent an e-mail as soon as the debate ended saying:

What we saw in the final moments in that debate is why Hillary Clinton is the next President of the United States.Her strength, her life experience, her compassion. She's tested and ready. It was the moment she retook the reins of this race and showed women and men why she is the best choice.

Clifford Milbry thinks it was a couple of real good minutes for Clinton, too. But he’s an Obama supporter and doesn’t think the new Clinton will move voters.He makes a pretty good point:

They’re not focusing on what she can do, other than reaching people emotionally. There’s no substance there. Isn’t that what they’ve been criticize him for?

Milbry and his wife, Beverly, were among the first people in line this morning to get into an Obama rally. They were wrapped up warm for the clear, but cold and windy day, snacking on Tootsie Roll Pops from the comfort of the folding chairs they brought for the four hour wait.

Beverly and Clifford Milbry

Milbry, 58, watched the debate and said it was one of Clinton’s finer moments in the campaign. But he says Obama has been doing “eloquent closings all along.” Milbry says he’d rather Clinton try to show herself as emotional than to go negative against Obama.

Beverly Milbry, who works for the Red Cross here, was a Clinton supporter when the campaign began. But Clifford has been with Obama since the Illinois senator emerged as a possible presidential candidate. He remembers being impressed last year when Obama held a Hollywood fundraiser and was able to get support from some of the biggest names in the business, including some former Clinton backers.

I knew he was powerful then and he was serious and he’s just done such a good job organizing since then that it’s unbelievable; never seen anything like it.

Clifford Milbry retired recently after 34 years with Goodyear. His last post with the tire company was to hand-make tires for NASCAR race cars. Today he wore a Dale Earnhardt hat pulled down low to block the sun, though he says he's not a race fan.

He was friendly and gladly talked about the campaign, his career and the economic strains so many in the state are dealing with.

He says the United States is getting “plastered” by China.

If I could ask Obama one question it’d be, ‘How can we stay even with China?’

Clifford was so willing to talk at one point Beverly said to him from under her thick blanket,

What, are you writing a book with the man?

He did point out the former Quaker Oats building down the block where they sell what he says are the best oatmeal cookies in the world. (Out of respect to the Mrs. I’ll reserve judgment on the global scale. But they’re darn good.)

Clifford has a pretty upbeat view of the Democratic primary. He thinks part of Clinton’s problems is she knows she’s outshined by Obama.

In these debates she’s so honestly in awe of this man. She hits him with that right hook and he just stands there

But he wants to get past the primary and “do battle with Republicans.”

Hillary’s not a bad Democrat. It’s just that we have somebody better.

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