JOHNSTON, IOWA -- Set in a cozy barn just outside of Des Moines, Hillary Clinton kicked off day two of her "Every County Counts" tour. But this was a new Hillary. The person we saw yesterday, just 24 hours after talking about change and bringing troops home from Iraq, was a much softer, more engaging Hillary.
Senator Clinton was introduced to the stage by a handful of close friends including her lifelong friend Betsy Ebeling who's known Mrs. Clinton for 55 years. Each friend spoke briefly of times when Clinton was there for them or talked about how Clinton is a good mother and wonderful daughter. There was a nice fuzzy moment when a teary-eyed Betsy Ebeling said, "She's our friend and I'm going to have to share her with the rest of the world, but right now I'll share her with Johnston. I introduce you to my very special friend, Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton."
This is all part of the campaign trying to soften an image of a candidate that's been hardened for over 15 years, essentially trying to make Clinton appear more human. The reason? National polls reveal that voters continually view her as calculating, polarizing and divisive and with only 17 more days left until the caucus, there's not a lot of time to change the minds of voters. So, Clinton is driving the point home that she's a regular gal.
"Here in Iowa, I want you to have some flavor of who I am, you know, outside the television cameras when all the cameras and the lights disappear, what I do when no one is listening or taking notes and recording it - because its hard in public life to have that kind of sharing experience with thousands and millions of people."
Mrs. Clinton shared stories of her childhood as a girl who wore thick glasses and how she found it hard to get attention from boys. She said that she "really hated" the glasses, implying that they hurt her appearance. So at times she would take them off, Clinton said, to get noticed by boys. The problem is she couldn't see anything without them, Clinton explained, and her good friend Betsy would come to her rescue. "Betsy would arrange to meet me so that we could walk down the hallway together so I wouldn't bump into a locker, but also so she could say, 'Don' so I could go 'Oh, hi Don' as though I actually did see him." Clinton went on to say that her friend Betsy has "been guiding me around ever since."
After her trip down memory lane, we were back to the old Clinton who talked about her big goals, including universal health care and boosting the middle class.