Editors' Pick: Originally published Feb. 4.
There was a lot of mom talk at the Democratic town hall in New Hampshire on Wednesday, but can it help Hillary Clinton finally prove to daughters and granddaughters that they belong in her corner? She convinced at least one pundit, who wrote Thursday, that Clinton "succeeded" in her quest to "appear human."
The former first lady has long struggled with a likability problem, and this election season is no exception. On the campaign trail, the issue has become perhaps especially problematic when it comes to attracting young voters who seem to like Bernie Sanders' cool-grandpa vibe. In Iowa, the Vermont senator got 84% of the under-30 crowd's caucus support -- among men and women.
She made efforts to remedy that Wednesday, showing a softer, more human side of herself and highlighting her gender and role as a daughter, mother, grandmother and glass-ceiling breaker.
When asked by an audience member how to get her five daughters, all Sanders supporters, to switch to Clinton, the former secretary of state touted her accomplishments -- her work on the Children's Defense Fund, in health care and as a lawyer -- and posited herself as a realist candidate. "It's hard to see how any of his proposals could ever be achievable," she said, promising to be a "progressive president who gets results."
But to close her argument, she took made a more human turn, making the case that her presidency would be especially meaningful for young women.
"I'm going to try to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling," she said. "I hope it splinters completely and, and I hope for your daughters it opens doors that might not be open right now, regardless of whether any of them ever do [anything] politically. But in their lives, their profession, how they're treated. I hope it does give them more of a sense of empowerment. That's what I want for my daughter and my amazing granddaughter, and that's what I want for your daughters."
Clinton also made various references to family throughout the evening, not only to her husband, but perhaps more importantly to the women in her life.
She highlighted her role as a grandmother, explaining to moderator Anderson Cooper that her ideal anonymous day would end with seeing her granddaughter, Charlotte, "because that's the crème de la resistance." Clinton also described being with her daughter Chelsea and Charlotte, who she says calls her grandma, in Iowa Sunday morning while having coffee with Bill.
"Honest to goodness, the caucus could've ended right there. I would've been perfectly happy," she said.
The former senator talked about her mother as well, who passed away in 2011 but was part of her 2008 campaign. When Cooper asked what she thinks her mother would tell her about the campaign today, Clinton cited her mother's tough upbringing and said she thinks she would give her the same advice as when she was a little girl.
"You know you get knocked down. Everybody gets knocked down. What matters is when you get up," she said. "And when you get up, what do you do? How do you behave? Are you going to be bitter? Angry? Upset? Are you going to try to be positive, get something done, help somebody else? And I'm sure that's exactly what she'd be saying now."
Has It Worked? Among Pundits, Yes
Clinton has been putting emotion more on display in New Hampshire, and not only at Wednesday's town hall. Politico reported that she has been employing a more soft-sell style in recent days in an effort to reclaim an emotional piece of the campaign after feeling that in Iowa, Sanders became the "heart" candidate while she was perceived as the "head."
Is her emotive play working?
The Guardian's Jeb Lund thinks so, writing in a column Thursday that both Sanders and Clinton have succeeded in appearing human.
"Clinton's warmest moment of the evening, besides an anecdote about sneaking out of the White House incognito to be a civilian for a day (including, apparently, being asked by tourists to take pictures of them and their families outside the White House), came in a quick reply to moderator Anderson Cooper," he wrote.
When asked whether she still believes in a "vast rightwing conspiracy," Clinton quickly replied, "Don't you?" to laughter from the audience.
CNN's Errol Louis chalked up Wednesday as a victory for Hillary as well. "Clinton's ability to connect with voters and ask them to make history are a heady combination that many voters respond to," he wrote.
The Washington Post noted Clinton opened up Wednesday when talking about running for office while at the same time staying humble. "This is hard for me," she said regarding campaigning. The Post called it her most reflective answer of the evening. Business Insider called her response to the ego question "powerful."
Regardless of what the pundits say, we'll have to wait to find out whether Clinton's human pivot is really working when voters head to the polls, in New Hampshire and beyond.