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The woman behind the candidate

As part of her effort to reintroduce herself to early voters who may have started to reconsider their support for her, Hillary Clinton has launched an ad blitz highlighting her softer, more caring side.
/ Source: National Journal

In a final push of statewide campaigning before Christmas, Democratic presidential candidate began barnstorming all 99 counties in Iowa on Sunday, the same day she received the coveted endorsement of the Des Moines Register. As part of her effort to reintroduce herself to early primary voters who may have started to reconsider their support for her, Clinton also launched an ad blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire highlighting her softer, more caring side.

Following the leads of fellow candidates John McCain (R) and (D), Clinton is employing one of her parents to underline a particular aspect of her personality. On Friday, her campaign released a TV ad featuring her mother, Dorothy Rodham, who praises her daughter's empathy and good character, noting how those traits have led her to continue "helping other women." The ad shows Clinton and her mother together in the kitchen and mentions that "Hillary's mom lives with her."

A second ad running in both Iowa and New Hampshire touches on similar themes and also showcases the candidate's daughter, Chelsea Clinton. Using footage of a campaign stop featuring the three generations of Rodham women, the ad emphasizes the importance of family to Clinton and how the values instilled by her mother have guided her. "My mom taught me to stand up for myself and to stand up for those who can't do it on their own," she says in the ad. The campaign accompanied both TV spots with a Web video showing Clinton campaigning with her mother and daughter in Iowa.

Depicting a personal side to the New York senator not seen in Clinton's earlier advertising, the new spots come as part of a coordinated effort by her campaign to boost her likability and blunt criticisms that she is too polarizing a figure to win the White House. The appeal to female voters also comes as Clinton is trying to hold onto her formidable support among women in the wake of Oprah Winfrey's much-publicized stumping for Clinton's closest rival, Illinois Sen. .

Keeping busy in New Hampshire, Clinton's campaign has also launched a pair of radio spots there in which a pair of women talk about Clinton's dedication to health care and helping the uninsured. Rather than dwelling on impersonal policy details, the ads foreground the personal stories of Ann Marie Morse and Barbara Marzelli and their conviction that Clinton has "the heart" to fight for expanded medical coverage. "I know that Senator Clinton can do this," says Marzelli. "I've met her, I've read her health care plan."

If there's any policy point the ads seek to emphasize, it's Clinton's commitment to an individual mandate that would give health care to everyone. But the ads are ultimately about Clinton and about portraying her as a caring, principled person who has a long history of fighting for those who feel "invisible" to government. In addition to the ads, the Clinton campaign also launched a new Web site featuring videos of Clinton supporters offering personal testimony about the candidate so voters can "hear more about Hillary from those who know her best."

Immigration's the thing
In the midst of a rough week for , who saw his national lead in the Republican presidential primary race evaporate thanks to the rise of , the former New York City mayor's campaign released a new TV ad last Thursday outlining his platform on an issue that is becoming a central point of contention in the GOP race: immigration.

In the ad, Giuliani attributes recent setbacks in immigration reform to a lack of political will in Washington and the absence of a strong leader. Explaining his plan to reform America's immigration system, Giuliani calls for a border fence, additional training for border patrol officers and a tamper-proof ID system. He also underscores a push for English that's tied to citizenship. "We can end illegal immigration. The technology exists to do it, the people exist to do it," Giuliani says.

The spot premiered in New Hampshire, where Giuliani has a better chance of performing well than he does in Iowa. However, after a weekend speech in Florida designed to reframe his campaign, it now seems Giuliani is reverting to his national strategy reliant upon a strong showing in Florida.