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Clinton Highlights Her Family In Emerging Campaign Theme

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SHENANDOAH, Iowa (AP) _ Hillary Rodham Clinton struck an intimate family note at a meeting in southern Iowa on Thursday night, describing her working-class family as the foundation for her values.

She laughed as she recalled her late father, Hugh Rodham, as a frugal Republican who ``didn't believe in credit.'' And she portrayed her mother, Dorothy Rodham, as a compassionate woman who was thrust into work as a teenager.

``She understood that sometimes you draw the short straw in life,'' Clinton said. ``So I was really raised with values that are rooted in what I think is best about our country, believing in the American Dream but knowing you have to work hard and do your part to be able to achieve it.''

Clinton drew that biographical sketch the same day her campaign launched a television commercial with Dorothy Rodham talking about her daughter.

``She has empathy for other people's unfortunate circumstances,'' Dorothy Rodham says in the ad.

No other presidential candidate is as well known as Clinton, but with only three weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, the campaign wants to make sure voters have a full portrait of Clinton that highlights both her roots and experience.

Her main rivals_ Barack Obama and John Edwards _ have compelling biographies of their own that make their way into their stump speeches. Edwards reminds voters he is the son of a mill worker. Obama is the well-traveled child of a mixed race couple.

Clinton tried to visit Shenandoah about a month ago, but had to cancel when poor visibility forced her plane to turn back as it was about to land. This time, Clinton and her small entourage of media and staff drove the 2 1/2 hours from Des Moines.

At one point, she referred to Obama as ``one of my opponents'' and criticized his health care plan because she said it would not cover everyone.

``I'm having kind of a debate with one of my opponents because I don't think you should leave anybody out,'' she said. ``Who're we going to leave out? Am I going to leave out the nurse with breast cancer? Am I going to leave out the woman with the chronic conditions who has hit the limits on her insurance policy?''

She repeated a veiled reference to Obama, who speaks of hope, and Edwards who calls on people to rise up against corporate power.

``You don't get change by demanding it, you don't get change by hoping for it,'' she said. ``You get change by working for it.''
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