Until that time, her campaign's message was that Clinton was an experienced politician touting prescriptions -- on healthcare, the economy and social issues -- that Democrats tended to support. Only as her poll numbers flagged did she deploy supporters who insisted the former first lady was more than a Pez dispenser of policy.

In a similar vein, some believe the campaign erred in its pugnacious relations with reporters. Since touching down in New Hampshire early Friday, Clinton has been more accessible to voters and the media alike.

Gone are the wonkish, hourlong policy speeches, replaced by a tighter and peppier presentation that leaves plenty of time for audience participation.

On Sunday, Clinton held her second New Hampshire news conference in three days, bantering easily with a pack of reporters for nearly 20 minutes.

She stepped up her criticism of Obama, reprising an argument from Saturday night's debate that, for all his stated opposition to the Iraq war, he has voted for "$300 billion worth of funding" to pay for the conflict.

"Sen. Obama has said that records matter," she said. "And so, therefore, the records of all of us matter."

Her husband, meantime, covered rural New Hampshire with three stops in the White Mountain region. The former president had planned only two appearances but asked for another, and the campaign added an evening visit to the Lucky Dog diner in Plymouth.

Running his usual hour late and nursing what he called a "typical New Hampshire head cold," Clinton echoed his wife's main theme: the notion that advocating change pales beside a record of making it happen.

"There's a difference between talk and action," he told the North Conway crowd. "It makes a big difference if you've actually changed people's lives, if it's the work of your life."

The crowds that came out to see the former president were large and adoring, often numbering several hundred in communities of a few thousand.

But some questioned how much Clinton was helping his wife.

"One of the fundamental flaws in Hillary's argument is the assumption that because Bill was a change agent in 1992, that she is now a change agent in 2008," said Ben Austin, a Southern California-based political consultant who worked in the Clinton White House and now backs Obama.

"The Clintons have become part of the establishment after 15 years in power," Austin continued, in an e-mail. "That's why I and a bunch of fellow Clinton alum are supporting Obama now -- because he represents the same kind of fundamental change that Bill did in 1992 when I first got involved in politics."

Howard Wolfson, one of Hillary Clinton's top strategists, said the former president was an asset who would remain an integral part of his wife's campaign.

"We're going to continue to deploy him to talk about Sen. Clinton's record," Wolfson said. Besides, he added, "people know that Sen. Clinton is the candidate."

mark.barabak@latimes.com

peter.nicholas@latimes.com

robin.abcarian@latimes.com

Times staff writer James Rainey contributed to this report.