MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton spent the Saturday before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary talking…and talking…and talking.
"What I want to do today is ask you for questions about anything you need to know or any issue you want to discuss that will help you make up your minds," she told an audience in Penacook, just outside of Concord. "I love New Hampshire, I love coming to New Hampshire. I love the seriousness with which people of New Hampshire take this election."
Clinton was so concerned with making sure everyone in Penacook had a chance to ask and listen that she implored the fire marshal to let the hundreds of people gathered in the halls and outside of Merrimack Valley High School into the gym. At one point Clinton personally escorted a mother and her baby to a seat on the riser behind her and she politely ordered her daughter Chelsea to move some barriers and make room for the influx.
"See, I am a problem solver, I've been telling you that throughout this whole campaign," she said as she surveyed her handiwork and watched more potential voters file in. "I'm filling - I don't have a lot of good material but I can fill for a few minutes," she said with a chuckle as people found space.
With everyone seated, Clinton essentially chucked her stump speech and dove into a lengthy question and answer session that lasted almost two hours. Over twenty questions later (without an audience microphone) a majority of attendees were still there. After Penacook, she boarded her campaign bus with four undecided voters for an hour-long ride to Durham and then spent almost another hour talking with young undecideds (and some parents) at the Bagelry, a local eatery.
While Clinton did take some questions and shake hands on ropelines during her Iowa campaign, the Democratic hopeful endured criticism in the final days before the caucuses for not answering more voters' inquiries more regularly. Her campaign refused to say today's profuse voter interaction was the result of a lesson learned in Iowa.
"Iowa was three days ago, we're in New Hampshire now," said Jay Carson, a campaign spokesman.
Aides believe Clinton's willingness to engage voters a la John McCain helps draw a contrast with her two major rivals. She can, they say, answer any question "in a thorough and honest way," an ability they believe will help her in New Hampshire, a state that is fiercely independent and prides itself on grilling presidential contenders.
"During her at times freewheeling Penacook appearance, Clinton fielded questions on a variety of topics from global warming to Iraq to health care.
"One of my leading opponents proposed a plan that doesn't cover everybody," she said offering an assessment of Sen. Barack Obama's health care plan. "I think that's a really big mistake. It's a mistake on the merits for a Democrat to propose a plan that doesn't cover everybody and it's a mistake politically because it cedes to the Republicans the argument that we can¹t do this. I just totally reject that."
Camp Clinton did acknowledge Saturday that it was "redoubling its efforts" to reach out to younger voters after losing that age group handily to Obama in last Thursday¹s Iowa caucus. Two of the people who rode on Clinton's bus from Penacook to Durham were college students, one of which turned eighteen today.
- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson