In pursuit of change, she said, Democrats must be sure to "nominate and elect a doer, not a talker" and to "separate out rhetoric from reality." She did not mention Obama by name, but her intent was clear.
Romney fired away at Sen. John McCain of Arizona in an interview on Fox News Sunday.
"He's been there [in Washington] 27 years and hasn't got the job done," Romney said. "I think he's been ineffective in making the changes America wants to see."
Of the two beleaguered candidates, both of whom were trailing in the latest polls here, Clinton appears to be in the stronger position. Her national stature gives her a real chance of surviving a defeat in New Hampshire.
But in a sign of the urgency felt by her strategists, Clinton introduced new lines into her stump speech yesterday, all of them aimed at Obama's claim to the mantle of change. These were her words:
"If you gave a speech saying you're going to vote against the Patriot Act and then you don't, that's not change . . .
"If you gave a speech, and a very good speech, against the war in Iraq in 2002, and then by 2004 you're saying you're not sure how you would have voted, and by 2005, 6 and 7 you vote for $300 billion for the war you said you were against, that's not change."
Clinton cited five instances in which, she alleged, Obama's actions did not match his words. By the end, the audience was chanting "That's not change" along with her.
In an effort to draw a contrast between her own command of the details and Obama's rhetorical dazzle, she has been devoting the vast majority of her town-hall meetings in New Hampshire to questions and answers.
Yesterday, she took questions from the audience for an hour. In Iowa, she rarely took any.
"You campaign in poetry, and you govern in prose," she told the crowd in Nashua, quoting former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. "We need a president who knows how to govern."
The Clinton campaign has not resorted to negative television commercials. But it has sent out mailings questioning Obama's commitment to abortion rights and has enlisted surrogates to criticize him.
During the debate Saturday, in which Clinton talked about change at every opportunity, she even tied her gender into the change message.
"I embody change," she said. "I think having the first woman president is a huge change with consequences across our country and the world."
For Romney, who has based his candidacy on successes in the early states, a win over McCain in New Hampshire is a necessity.
He has been hamstrung here by a flip-flopper image, the perception that he transformed himself from the moderate governor of a neighboring state to a conservative candidate for national office.
New Hampshire newspapers, by and large, have endorsed McCain. Some have ridiculed Romney.
In an editorial devoted to the subject, the Concord Monitor wrote: "If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it. Mitt Romney is such a candidate." The Manchester Union Leader did the same, opining: "In this primary, the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes."
In his attempt to recover, Romney has emphasized what was always part of his campaign - that Washington is broken and that he, as someone who has never worked in the federal government, is the right person to fix it.
"It's going to take someone who knows how to bring change to get Washington back on track," he told campaign audiences this weekend, emphasizing what he called a record of change in business and government. "Our nominee has to be able to talk about change with Barack Obama or whomever the Democrats put up."
To some degree, Romney has even adopted the language of Obama and Democrat John Edwards, promising to "get the lobbyists off the shoulders of the politicians" and put the people ahead of the special interests.
Of course, the man from Massachusetts has continued to take on McCain - in his speeches, in interviews, in debates and in commercials - on immigration, Washington experience and taxes.
In a television interview yesterday, Romney said: "I don't think the Republican Party is going to nominate John McCain. . . . We're a tax-cutting party. He's not a tax-cutting leader."
Romney and Clinton. Neither can afford a loss in New Hampshire. Both are working desperately to prevent it from happening.
See more campaign news, links, video updates, and a new state-by-state map of vote results at http:// go.philly.com/campaign2008
Contact senior writer Larry Eichel at 215-854-2415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.