WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton fiercely attacked Monday her surging rival Barack Obama, hoping to turn around her misfiring campaign just 17 days before the first White House nominating contest.
Democrat Clinton, on an intense helicopter tour of first-voting state Iowa, blitzed six morning television talk shows, brandishing her credentials as a reformer, as her campaign tried to portray Obama as a risky 2008 choice.
"Campaigns are like life, some days are perfect, some days aren't," the former first lady said on NBC television, after a rocky month for her once dominant political machine.
But "I am a proven leader," Clinton argued, days after her husband, ex-president Bill Clinton, warned that an Obama presidency would represent a big risk, owing to his perceived lack of experience in top-level politics.
Clinton is trying to use a key endorsement from the top newspaper in Iowa this weekend to halt Obama's momentum, which has seen him turn the race the state, and also in New Hampshire, which votes on January 8, into a dead-heat.
"I think it is perfectly legitimate for voters to draw differences among us," Clinton later told MSNBC.
"The way you can tell what changes I will make is by looking at the changes I have already made," she said, arguing she was equipped to become president on "day one."
Most opinion surveys show Obama rising, and Clinton sliding, suggesting the first-term Illinois senator may be peaking at the right time.
"I really don't pay a lot of attention to that. I have a much longer view about this campaign," Clinton said. "I feel really, really good about where my campaign is," she told Fox television.
Clinton was last week forced to deny her campaign was in disarray, but got a much-needed boost on Saturday by grabbing the coveted support of the Des Moines Register.
The paper said Clinton's "readiness to lead" set her apart from a "constellation of possible stars" in the Democratic party, especially Obama, who it said had the potential to be a fine president.
"When Obama speaks before a crowd, he can be more inspirational than Clinton. Yet, with his relative inexperience, it's hard to feel as confident he could accomplish the daunting agenda that lies ahead," the paper said.