Clinton gets emotional

The candidate chokes up when she's asked how she keeps going.

Published January 7, 2008 6:38PM (EST)

It has long been a source of speculation: What would be the political reaction if Hillary Clinton -- a woman! -- were caught crying in public? We're about to find out.

At a campaign stop in Portsmouth, N.H., this morning, a voter asked Clinton how she gets up every morning and keeps at it on the road.

Clinton started out firmly. "It's not easy, it's not easy," she said. "I couldn't do it if I just didn't passionately believe that it's the right thing to do." Then she paused, her voice softened, and she said: "You know, I have so many opportunities for this country, and I just don't want to see us fall backwards -- no."

Clinton's emotions seemed to swallow her words, and the crowd came to her aid with a round of applause.

Her voice still cracking, she continued:

"You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening. We have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game, they think it's like who's up and who's down. It's about our country, it's about our kids' futures, and it's really about all of us together."

Clinton seemed to regain her emotional footing as she turned to her talking points: "You know," she said, "some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country. But some of us are right, some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on Day 1, and some of us haven't really thought through enough. And so when we look at the array of problems we have, and the potential for it getting, really spinning out of control, this is one of the most important elections America has ever faced."

The good news for Clinton: With Mitt Romney having choked up at least twice in recent weeks, there ought to be a limit on how much anyone can make of Clinton's teary eyes and cracking voice. The bad news for Clinton: While Romney got emotional about fallen soldiers in Iraq and the race history of his own church, Clinton seemed to be crying about her own political plight. More bad news for Clinton: Her emotional moment comes just as the evening news shows need a visual representation of a campaign in crisis.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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