COMMENTS: Rodham Clinton Comes Close to Tears

Happy New Year everybody. Tyndall Report resumes its daily blog on the network nightly news with New Hampshire. On the eve of the first primary of Campaign 2008, all three newscasts were anchored from snowy New England. Pride of place went to Hillary Rodham Clinton--one time frontrunner, third place Iowa finisher behind John Edwards, trailer in NH opinion polls to Barack Obama--and her emotional monologue in a diner in Portsmouth in answer to an undecided voter's question: "How do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?" "It is not easy. It is not easy and I could not do it if I just did not, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do."

All three newscasts kicked off with her extended soundbite. CBS' Jim Axelrod ran the longest excerpt; NBC's Andrea Mitchell the most tightly edited. ABC's Kate Snow gave us the play-by-play of HRC's physiognomy: she "never actually let a tear escape from her eye and roll down her face but if you were in the room you could tell she was clearly fighting back tears." It was also not clear what Rodham Clinton was talking about--the state of her candidacy or the state of the nation or both simultaneously: "I have so many opportunities from this country. I just do not want to see us fall backwards. You know? So, you know, this is very personal for me. It is not just political. It is not just public. I see what is happening and we have to reverse it."

Whatever Rodham Clinton meant, it was headline fare. ABC's Snow called it "the talk of New Hampshire politics." She quoted an unsympathetic rival Edwards: "Presidential campaigns are a tough business--but being President of the United States is also a very tough business." CBS' Axelrod countered with Obama's sympathy: "The grind can get a little tough out there." Axelrod called it "the most personal reaction we have ever seen" from Rodham Clinton and profiled Marianne Pernold Young, the 64-year-old questioner who prompted a response that "thousands of questions over the years from the most toughminded and aggressive reporters" had failed to elicit. NBC's Mitchell mused that a woman "known for her steely resolve" was "clearly showing signs of strain."


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