PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Seeking to end the statistical dead heat with Barack Obama in this critical primary state, Hillary Rodham Clinton Friday enlisted her daughter and mother in a campaign swing that alternated camera-ready warmth with rants against the Bush administration.

While mother Dorothy Rodham stayed on the sidelines during three New Hampshire stops, daughter Chelsea Clinton briefly stole the show.

“Princess Diana!” one fan screamed as a willowy Chelsea entered a coffee shop here.

“You are great!” one elderly man in the capital of Concord gushed to Chelsea.

“I have good role models,” the younger Clinton replied.

“I didn’t realize you were so tall,” a woman cooed as she sought an autograph. With a wink, the once-gawky Chelsea, who is now 27, pointed to her black, three-inch spike heels.

Clinton’s mother and daughter will tour with her again Saturday as part of an effort to attract more female voters, one of the New York senator’s strongest demographics. They appeared a day after former President Bill Clinton came to New Hampshire to hail his wife as a “world-class genius.”

Not to be outdone by her relatives, Clinton, who has been trying to show her warmer side amid polls suggesting voters prefer her politics to her personality, smiled for the cameras whenever possible.

With a new poll showing 40 percent of New Hampshire voters from both parties undecided in the Jan. 8 primary, Clinton sought to portray herself as a road-tested candidate who could reach across party lines. Under New Hampshire’s flexible voting registration laws, balloters can switch parties on primary day.

“A lot of problems we face are not Democratic or Republican problems, they are America’s problems,” Clinton said. She deplored “a sense of fear and fatalism coming from the White House . . . that has been a substitute for positive action.”

Meanwhile, the campaign of John Edwards Friday slammed Clinton’s pledges to withdraw most troops from Iraq within a year of taking office and legislation she just introduced to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour as cases of “follow the leader.”

Edwards, who is in a statistical tie with Clinton and Obama in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and is trailing both by 14 points in New Hampshire, has since February pledged an Iraq troop withdrawal in 2008 and since July has called for a $9.50 minimum wage.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” quipped Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz.



(c) 2007, Newsday.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-12-21-07 2151EST


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