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Clintons want N.H. to join in nostalgia

Bill and Hillary Clinton yesterday shared a laugh with state Senator Molly Kelly at a campaign stop in Keene, N.H. The Clintons have campaigned together since 1974. Bill and Hillary Clinton yesterday shared a laugh with state Senator Molly Kelly at a campaign stop in Keene, N.H. The Clintons have campaigned together since 1974. (Lisa Hornak/Reuters)

NASHUA -- When Bill and Hillary Clinton, the former president and current presidential candidate, traveled together in New Hampshire yesterday for the first time in 15 years, it was as much a trip down memory lane as it was a walk down the presidential campaign trail.

Bill Clinton recalled that a successful event in Keene in 1991 made him realize he could actually be elected president. In Nashua, Hillary Clinton began pointing out people in the crowd she has known for years.

The Clintons wanted the audience to do more than reminisce. They wanted the crowds to connect their memories of happier days in the 1990s to her candidacy in 2008.

"I am a Republican, but I would vote for her," said Paul Giovannucci, 38, a general contractor from Nashua. "When he was president the economy was strong and we aren't in all the mess we are in now. I think we have an idea how she would run the country based on how he ran things."

The Clintons have a special relationship with New Hampshire, said George Bruno, who was New Hampshire cochairman of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign .

On primary night in 1992, Clinton dubbed himself "the comeback kid" after a second-place showing despite scandals that dogged him in the weeks leading up to the vote.

"New Hampshire saved the Clintons, and they have always remembered that," Bruno said.

Yesterday, it was Bill Clinton, not Hillary, who was sitting on a stool and listening to a spouse's pitch.

On the stage yesterday, they hugged after he introduced her, and she gave him a tap on the knee when she said she would enlist her husband as a goodwill ambassador.

They have campaigned together since 1974.

"People ask me all the time what is it like to be campaigning with your husband," she said. "It feels great."

Terry Shumaker, a close friend of the Clintons in New Hampshire who also served as a US ambassador under Clinton, said it was the first time the pair had been together in New Hampshire since the 1992 campaign.

The Clintons met audiences of more than 1,000 at each of their three stops. Among them was Margaret Beinder of Grantham, who said: "I wanted to see her, but I don't mind seeing him either. He is clearly an asset for her."

Rick Follender, 53, of Nashua, said: "He's the rock star. She's the candidate."

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