Passion and Tears Win over Women Voters; (1) Consolation Hug: Barack Obama and His Wife Michelle (2) Republican Winner: Senator John McCain Smiles at Wife Cindy (3) Clinching It: Hillary with Husband Bill and Daughter Chelsea after Her 39-36 per Cent Win in New Hampshire Which Paralleled His Victory There in 1992

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ONE striking thing about women voters in New Hampshire was watching themagonise over the choice between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Most had been for Mrs Clinton to begin with, but they could not ignore the riseof the brilliant young pretender, and so spent the last few days attendingnumerous campaign events in person.

In Iowa, Mrs Clinton appeared frozen and inaccessible, burdened by herfrontrunner status. But in New Hampshire, I watched a number of women undecidedvoters on a roller-coaster ride as the Democrat hopeful transformed herself,seemingly liberated by defeat.

I saw that Mrs Clinton had hit the reset button at a high school gym. Here, shetook down the barriers that separated her from the crowd, ditched her speechand took questions from the audience for two hours. It was a masterfulperformance but not inspirational, voters told me. And she hardly mentionedBarack Obama.

That all changed dramatically on Saturday when she launched into him in thetelevised debate, calling his record and consistency into question, andattacking him as being all hot air.

By Sunday and Monday, she had found a new gear. She accused Mr Obama ofemploying a drug firm lobbyist to head up his campaign, she derided his lack ofexperience, and she raised the spectre of the economystill voters' number one concern. And she did it with a passionate abandon we'dnot seen before.

Here was Mrs Clinton taking risks, wielding the sword, showing people that herpolitical life was on the line and that she would fight to the end. …