Hillary Clinton, "Den Mother of Her Factory Floor"

Jodi Kantor's "compliment" - Hillary reminds her of Roseanne Barr's sitcom character.

Call it balance, liberal-media style. While the Times has plenty of Obama-lovers, Hillary Clinton has a newsroom cheering section as well, judging from reporter Jodi Kantor's Monday piece on Clinton's passion for jobs in Fort Wayne, Ind., "Faltering Economy Plays to a Clinton Strength."

All politicians talk about jobs, but these days Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton does it with tactile, almost sensuous detail. She began a rally here on Saturday morning with memories of her father's fabric-printing business, feeling aloud the cloth, the silk screen and the squeegee he used to create patterns that would decorate strangers' drapes.

"I'm trying to paint a word picture, and when I think about helping my dad at his print plant, it's very physical, the memories," she recalled in an interview after the crowds had dispersed.

Mrs. Clinton has spent her whole life climbing the ladders of education, wealth and power. Now, as part of her effort to hold off Senator Barack Obama and claim the Democratic presidential nomination, she is climbing back down them, sounding less like a Wellesley alumna than Roseanne Barr's old sitcom character, the den mother of her factory floor.

Mrs. Clinton's campaign has hung on in part by asserting that Mr. Obama cannot win the crucial category of white working-class Democrats. Those men and women won her the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries, and for the logic of her campaign to hold, they must again side with her in Indiana, where polls suggest the race could be tight.


At a union hall in garbage-strewn Gary, Mrs. Clinton began her early-evening speech looking wan. But as she began talking about magnets and wheel bases, her eyes grew rounder and her small hands danced with expressive energy. She sounded as if, once she is done with the presidency business, she might like to try the steel one, joining those in the audience wearing "Women of Steel" T-shirts.

Since the race started, Mrs. Clinton has cycled through several political personas: the battle-tested White House veteran, the fighter, the girl - her word - tougher than any boy. Now she is the Dream Boss: the one who will give you a job and provide health insurance, but also understand just how hard you work and the mundane details of what you do. Mrs. Clinton has a reputation as an effective listener, and she is finally putting that skill to full use in her appearances, showing her audiences how closely she tracks their concerns.