Hillary Clinton gets better and better as campaigner

Ms Clinton has had some pretty amusing moments on the campaign trail
By PATRICK HEALY New York Times Service

Close friends of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton are always saying that she has a great sense of humour — witty, sarcastic, playful — and that sceptical voters would come around if they saw that part of her personality. Well, sceptical voters, take note: Ms Clinton has had some pretty amusing moments on the campaign trail this fall, wearing her personality on her sleeve more than she has in the past.

This campaign season has been something of a dress rehearsal for Ms Clinton, as she considers auditioning for a bigger role in 2008. Her political issues, campaign advertisements and public persona are being calibrated for her to go national — if she decides to go for it. Thursday was a good example: She appeared before a group of black clergy members in Lower Manhattan, sounding conservative-friendly themes about faith and adoption, and reminiscing about her minister and church potlucks. Then, just when it all started to feel a bit pious, Hillary let loose with an arch bit of biblical analysis about modern-day pessimism, a moment that was both engaging and humanising.

She described today’s naysayers as akin to the Back to Egypt Committee — followers of Moses who moaned and groaned that life was better under the Pharaoh. Droning on like the Debbie Downer character from Saturday Night Live, she said: “There’s always gonna be somebody to say: ‘You know, I think we should go back to Egypt. We can’t transform bad housing, we can’t do it, we can’t afford it, we don’t know how to do it. Do we really want those people in our church? Are we supposed to be parenting these children? Where are their parents? Do we want to get in the business of educating after school, pre-school?’ Well,” Ms Clinton went on, speaking as herself now, “We need prophetic voices to say, ‘Yes we do, yes we do.’” Maybe it’s because she lacks serious Republican competition right now, or maybe it’s because she has become a fuller politician, but the senator seems to have had a Clintonian good time while campaigning for a second term this fall.

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