Image: Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea
Paul Sancya  /  AP
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., left, and daughter Chelsea order breakfast at Palmer's Deli in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday.
updated 12/9/2007 12:00:37 AM ET 2007-12-09T05:00:37

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was joined by her mother and daughter as she vowed "change across the generations" and stepped up her pitch to the women voters who could hold the key to Iowa's caucuses.

The Midwestern state's caucuses, neighborhood meetings at which voters determine which candidates to support, launch the presidential nominating season in less than four weeks.

"We're getting close to the caucuses," said Clinton, a U.S. senator representing New York. "I always think it's better to go to the caucuses with a buddy. Today, I've got some buddies with me."

Those "buddies" included 88-year-old mother Dorothy Rodham and 27-year-old daughter Chelsea Clinton, making her first appearance with her mother on the trail in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Opening the swing, Clinton noted that her family is able to care for her mother as she ages.

"I'm fortunate, my mother lives with Bill and me," said Clinton. "Lots of times she has more energy than we do."

Clinton noted that her mother fits the description of women who were born before American women got the right to vote, and are now pushing to elect the first woman president. "She has seen a lot happen and change in our country," said Clinton.

Clinton discusses long-term care
Clinton's mother joined her on the campaign trail Friday night, and Chelsea, who works in New York City's financial sector, joined her Saturday morning. Neither spoke at the campaign events, but Chelsea worked a crowd hard as they opened the day.

Clinton used the occasion to trot out a plan to bolster long-term care, including tax benefits for caregivers and the elderly. She repeatedly pointed to her ability to care for her own mother as she ages.

"I don't think having my mother with me is a burden, I think it's a joy," said Clinton. "It isn't easy to do and a lot of families don't have a lot of options."

Issues of long-term care and building families will be a focus of her presidency, Clinton said.

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Clinton is locked in a tight battle with rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards in the race for Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses, a competition in which the stakes are very high. Although the Iowa race is close, Clinton has commanding leads in early primary election states like New Hampshire and South Carolina, and some strategists argue that a win in competitive Iowa could propel her toward the nomination.

The parties choose their candidates in August and September, and the general election is in November.

Oprah gives Obama a boost
While Obama was seeking the spotlight Saturday by bringing in talk show maven Oprah Winfrey , Clinton was fast making her campaign a family business. While her mother and daughter joined her in Iowa, her former president husband campaigned for her in another early voting state, South Carolina, and was headed back to the Iowa on Monday for a swing focused on college campuses.

Rate candidates' positionsBy focusing on women and long-term care, Clinton was targeting two crucial groups in the state's electorate — women and seniors. More than 60 percent of caucus-goers in the last election cycle were over 50, and the state has one of highest populations in the nation over 85.

Clinton closed her campaign swing with a town hall-style meeting in Washington, Iowa, before about 450 people jammed into the local fire station. Under questioning, she vowed to toughen laws governing labeling of food.

"I'm in favor of mandatory labeling on food _ genetically modified and country of origin," said Clinton. Clinton was heading back to Washington, D.C., late Saturday after battling an ice storm in her latest trip.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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