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Clinton's softer image helped her win, say aides

A softer image of Sen. Hillary Clinton helped propel the former First Lady to a surprise victory in the New Hampshire race for the Democratic party presidential nomination, aides said.

After a disappointing third-place finish in the Iowa caucus last week, the typically stoic Clinton showed a more vulnerable side in New Hampshire, only the second state to choose a nominee for the nationwide November election.

On Monday the New York senator choked up and her eyes filled with tears while meeting New Hampshire voters. The emotional moment was unusual for Clinton, who normally has kept her feelings to herself, even during revelations about her husband's affair with a White House intern.

Asked if that tearful moment helped win the women's vote in New Hampshire, Clinton's senior adviser Ann Lewis said: "I know it, but I can't prove it."

Clinton, who is seeking to become the nation's first female president, lost the women's vote to a Democratic rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in Illinois.

The 60-year-old Clinton loosened her campaign style in recent days, scrapping most of her standard campaign speech and instead answering voters' questions at political events.

"She is a reserved person. Speaking about herself does not come naturally," said longtime Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson.

New Hampshire voters, Wolfson said, "saw a lot more of who she was, which was somebody who was 15 points down in the polls and, like all the candidates, exhausted.

"This was all about her reaching inside herself," he said.

Clinton was under enormous pressure to rebuild her political momentum after her disappointing third-place finish in Iowa behind Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

As Clinton told supporters who gathered in Manchester, New Hampshire, to celebrate her victory: "Over the last week, I listened to you and, in the process, I found my own voice."