Clinton vows to bring new set of pants to White House

(dpa) - Hillary Clinton wants to go back to the White House, and she insists that if she prevails in her bid to become the first female president she will not be overshadowed by her popular husband in running the affairs of the country.

"In my White House we will know who wears the pant suits," she joked on a late-night comedy talk show on the eve of the biggest day yet in the campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, in which she picked up wins in eight states.

Clinton, 60, is no stranger to the role a spouse can play in policy decisions. She broke the traditional role of first lady by weighing in on important issues during Bill Clinton's 1993 to 2001 presidency before spinning her experience into a career as a senator from New York.

She is banking on that experience to persuade voters she is the right candidate for the White House after eight years of George W Bush.

Clinton handily won reelection in 2006 and was widely seen as the heir-apparent for the Democratic nomination in this year's presidential run, but ran into Barack Obama, a charismatic African American senator from Illinois whose message of change has excited voters and threatened to derail her long-held aspirations. He was able to pick up wins in more states than Clinton on Tuesday, but her wins in large states and the party's system of awarding delegates proportionally means the race will continue.

Analysts briefly wrote off her campaign after she lost the initial contest in Iowa, but she made a strong comeback victory in New Hampshire, aided by an emotional moment that helped her break her image as distant and cold.

Obama, 46, has campaigned by stressing the need for change, a strategy that has caught on with voters who fear Clinton would continue the political partisanship and bickering of the Clinton and Bush years.

That view was exacerbated by comments on the campaign trail by Bill Clinton, whose harsh criticism of Obama's campaign turned off some voters who believe Hillary's political style is polarizing, a characteristic the Republican nominee will likely pounce on in the general election.

She has responded to Obama by stressing that she has experience in bringing about change, though the two appeared to be setting aside their animosities during a debate in California last week. Her usually guarded 27-year-old daughter, Chelsea, has joined her on the campaign trail to counter Obama's appeal to younger voters.

Clinton had name recognition like few other candidates heading into the race to succeed a president whose popularity has been undone by the war on Iraq and weakened economy. She has pointed to the prosperous economic times under her husband as one of her strengths.

As first lady, Clinton took an usually active role in shaping policy, mainly through her high profile yet unsuccessful effort to push a universal health care plan through Congress.

She could also be haunted by the scandals that rocked the Clinton administration, including the Whitewater investment debacle dating back to the time in the Arkansas governor's mansion, and the marital problems caused mainly by Bill Clinton's infidelity, including the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to the former president's impeachment.

Clinton's run for Senate in New York brought criticism since she had not lived there long enough to justify her candidacy, and many believed it was merely serving as her launching pad to the White House. But she worked hard for her constituents, rarely missing a vote in the Senate and winning reelection with 67 per cent of the ballots.

Opponents have tried to exploit her position on the Iraq war, which she now opposes after voting for the resolution approving the 2003 invasion.

She now says she would begin withdrawing US troops within 60 days of taking office. She has also stressed the economy, backing a moratorium on home foreclosures to adress the subprime mortgage crisis, and health insurance.

Clinton has bested Obama in fundraising, a key measure of a campaign's viability, bringing in 115.6 million dollars last year to his 102 million. She has also relied on her strong support among key Democratic constituencies such as labour unions and Hispanics.

If Clinton gets the nod as the party's nominee, she could face a close race against Republican frontrunner Senator John McCain, with several initial polls showing him beating her in a national contest.

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