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Clinton changes rules of engagement in NH

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
NASHUA, NH -- Fresh off a devastating third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Clinton changed the rules of engagement at a morning rally at an airport hangar here, just hours after her plane touched down.

After spending the last few weeks focusing heavily on her ability to be a change agent, what the senator changed on Friday was her approach to relating voters. Clinton, who was introduced by her husband, gave a speech that seemed lighter and more nimble than her most recent outings. In it, she listed some of her goals and accomplishments quickly -- rather than spending several minutes on each point. The senator also was joined on stage by her daughter Chelsea, an ever-present (albeit silent) figure on the stump in recent days.

After just 10 minutes of laying out her case, which focused on her ability to solve the big problems America faces, the need to reclaim the future for young people, and her experience withstanding Republican attacks, Clinton opened the floor to questions from the crowd.

In a way, it was a return to the original promise the senator made in the video announcement of her candidacy months ago. She tried to have "a conversation" with voters, and she started by listing some of the state leaders backing her candidacy, noting that there were only five days before the primary. 

"It's a short period of time but it's enough time. Time for people to say, 'Wait a minute, Number one, who will be the best president for our country?'" She said. "And who will be able to withstand the Republican attack machine?"

Clinton then told the audience she wanted to know what they wanted to hear from her over the next five days. It was a marked contrast to the previous several days in Iowa, where she allowed audiences few chances to quiz her. Clinton answered about half a dozen queries on issues ranging from health care to electability to the economy. But as is often the case at her events, the questioners had no microphones, which made them hard to hear and allowed her to summarize their concerns.
 
In his brief remarks, Bill Clinton highlighted the importance of New Hampshire, the state that made him the "Comeback Kid" in 1992. "New Hampshire is gonna be given the chance to prove that you are the first primary," he said to the cheering crowd. "You're going to be given the chance to show your well-known and deeply deserved independent judgment."

Despite the less rehearsed approach, what began as a high-energy rally during the former president's remarks, seemed to turn somewhat wonkish when his wife began the Q&A, with her responses including fewer applause lines than usual.

In addition to taking questions from the audience, Clinton spokesman Jay Carson indicated there would be no shortage of opportunities for the media to question the senator this week, a change in strategy that the national press has long been awaiting. Her staffers also said to expect Clinton to target youth voters more in New Hampshire than they did in Iowa. This makes sense since Obama had a huge advantage with young voters in Iowa. But Clinton's reference to young people in a variation of her 'demanding versus hoping versus working hard for change' line sounded out of place.

"This is especially about all of the young people in New Hampshire who need a president, who need a president who won't just call for change or a president who won't just demand change, but a president who will produce change just like I've been doing for 35 years," she said.