MANCHESTER, N.H. — Fighting for a political comeback, Democrat Hillary Clinton retooled her campaign for New Hampshire primary voters Sunday with a sharp attack on rival Barack Obama. Republican Mitt Romney launched his own attempt at revival, striving to turn voters against John McCain.
Clinton rolled out the new strategy as she found herself on the ropes just two days before New Hampshire's primary. A new McClatchy-MSNBC poll showed the New York senator losing her longtime lead on the heels of her third-place finish in Iowa last week, putting her in danger of a second straight loss to the Illinois senator.
Speaking to overflow rallies and going door to door, Clinton hammered Obama as offering a mixed record in the Senate and nothing but talk about what he'd do in the White House.
"There's a big difference between talking and action, between talking and performing, and I am going to make that case to as many people in New Hampshire as I possibly can," she said in Manchester.
She ripped him for voting for the Patriot Act, "for Dick Cheney's energy bill," for continued funding of the Iraq war, and for criticizing lobbyists while letting a lobbyist chair his New Hampshire campaign. "That's not change," she said.
Going door to door in Manchester, Clinton said she felt good about the new tactics and the prospects for Tuesday. "We're starting to draw a contrast for New Hampshire voters between talkers and doers," she said.
Clinton's campaign also said it has made negative TV ads and bought the time to air them, and was debating whether to broadcast them Monday and Tuesday. A mailing attacking Obama for his "present" vote on an abortion bill in the Illinois state senate started arriving in mailboxes over the weekend.
She also overhauled her approach to voters, cutting her stump speech from 55 minutes to 15, and opening herself to more than an hour of questions from voters instead. Aides thought the shift played to her strength discussing policy rather than a losing fight with Obama for rhetorical style.
Obama brushed aside the new criticisms.
"One of my opponents said we can't just, you know, offer the American people false hopes about what we can get done," he said at a Manchester theater.
"The real gamble in this election is to do the same things, with the same folks, playing the same games over and over and over again and somehow expect a different result...That is a gamble we cannot afford, that is a risk we cannot take. Not this time. Not now. It is time to turn the page."
Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina spent Sunday trying to convince voters that he's still in the race, that it's really between Obama and him.
He said Clinton, who finished third in Iowa, is self-absorbed.
"The idea that somehow everything is about them, it's an indication that they have no conscience about what's at stake here," Edwards said in Keene.
The new McClatchy-MSNBNC poll showed the contest close in both parties, with Obama leading Clinton by 33-31 among likely Democratic primary voters and McCain leading Romney by 32-24 among likely GOP primary voters.
Romney fought to regain the lead he'd enjoyed for months in the state, casting himself as a can-do outsider most able to change Washington and slamming McCain as an insider often disloyal to the party.
"He talks about changing Washington," Romney said on Fox News Sunday. "But he's been there so long, he's got so many lobbyists at each elbow ... in many cases, he's a maverick against his own party."
Appearing before voters later in Salem, Romney criticized McCain for voting against the Bush tax cuts.
Throughout the day, Romney worked to boost support from Republicans, who now split evenly between the two candidates. McCain has the edge among those independents who plan to vote in the Republican primary.
He found himself on the defensive, however, when one voter pressed him to explain his switch from abortion rights supporter to abortion foe.
Romney explained why he switched, and poked McCain. "If you want somebody who never changes their mind, you'll find someone who sticks with the wrong issues." He mentioned McCain's two votes against Bush tax cuts.
"I'll take being right over being consistent any day of the week."
Romney appeared to make inroads, at least with some voters.
Chuck Tarr, a federal worker from Nashua, said he was for McCain until watching him closely in a Saturday debate. "I didn't like his attitude," Tarr said of McCain. "It was too mean-spirited. He kept whining about Mitt. A candidate should be able to stand on his record." He's now for Romney.
Confident of victory, McCain declared flatly, "I will win," and worked to avoid battling back and forth with Romney.
He did get in one swipe, however. ""He has changed his position on almost every major issue," McCain said. "That doesn't mean he's not a good person."
William Douglas, Mark Johnson, David Lightman and Margaret Talev contributed to this story.