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New Hampshire Voters Say Clinton Understands

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

I'm Steve Inskeep. And this is Hillary Clinton.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): I want especially to thank New Hampshire. Over the last week I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

INSKEEP: So there's one explanation for her surprise win New Hampshire last night. Let's find out what else we can from NPR's Juan Williams, who's in New Hampshire.

And, Juan, what were Clinton's advisers saying before the results were known?

JUAN WILLIAMS: Well, before the results, Steve, they were pretty much down. They thought that this was going to be a loss. They were talking about the fact that Bill Clinton didn't win one before Georgia; looking down the road, thinking about what they could possibly do in terms of even bringing new people into the campaign, re-jiggering the message. They did not expect to win here.

INSKEEP: So they did not expect to win, but they did have a campaign organization, it's often said, in New Hampshire. What kind of organization was that?

WILLIAMS: An organization that was very strong in terms of making calls, getting out the votes, and I think in some ways they understood the message better than Mrs. Clinton and her national team, because they, for example, were sending out leaflets here highlighting the fact that Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of women's right to choose on abortion and presenting Barack Obama as an unknown, unsteady ally in that cause - something, of course, very important to Democratic female voters. Among union members, seniors, people over 40, and especially people over 65, Hillary Clinton had a dominant performance Tuesday night. So in all those ways you see you the power of a Democratic Party machine in New Hampshire benefiting the Clinton campaign.

INSKEEP: Democratic Party machine. Who were the people or the kinds of people that Hillary Clinton had on her side even as it seemed that her campaign was slipping?

WILLIAMS: Well, elected officials, union officials, and you're talking about people who have been involved, of course, going to back to Bill Clinton's comeback effort back here in '92, and of course he finished second and become the comeback kid. Hillary Clinton has actually won this to become her own version of a comeback kid.

INSKEEP: So Democratic elected officials in New Hampshire were with Hillary Clinton? Could Obama or John Edwards, for that matter, bring in anybody to compare?

WILLIAMS: Well, no. What the effort for Obama was really the tremendous energy, the sense of history being made by the first African-American to really been a leading contender for his party's nomination. If you look at people who were casting their first vote in a primary, plus 12 for Obama; if you look at the independents, people who weren't registered as Democrats or Republican, plus seven for Obama; and with young people, those under 30, particularly those 18 to 24, two-thirds of them voting for Barack Obama.

So those were newcomers to the process, people outside of the Democratic Party or the union organizations, who were the primary supporters for Barack Obama.

INSKEEP: So you've got newcomers favoring Obama, you've got solid Democrats and organizational Democrats sticking with Hillary Clinton and coming up with a lot of votes. And I want to draw on one voter group - women. Women voters in Iowa seemed to go for Barack Obama by a substantial and surprising margin. What did Hillary Clinton's campaign do or say to try to win the women's vote back in New Hampshire?

WILLIAMS: I think Hillary Clinton presented herself as a woman who understood the struggles of women in American society, often talking about issues relating to health care, relating to caring for children, and having to deal with children while you're a working mom.

She had a tremendous advantage with the women with children, married women with children in particular. And don't forget she got emotional, I think that may have played to her advantage. She shows a little bit of emotion and people see it as breaking through the ice queen image and making it clear she cares deeply about this process. I think that's the big difference between the Hillary Clinton that we saw campaigning in Iowa and the Hillary Clinton we saw on stage, especially in the last few days here in New Hampshire.

INSKEEP: NPR's Juan Williams is in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Thanks, Juan.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Juan Williams
Juan Williams, one of America's leading journalists, is a news analyst, appearing regularly on NPR's Morning Edition. Knowledgeable and charismatic, Williams brings insight and depth — hallmarks of NPR programs — to a wide spectrum of issues and ideas.