In the hotly contested 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Obama relied early and often on his charisma to win over voters still on the fence about the freshman Senator. Cracking jokes and smiles at the numerous debates, he was able to distinguish himself from the frequent stern looks and sober policy explanations of his rival, Hillary Clinton. But Obama's charm fell short in the last debate before the New Hampshire primary. When the moderator asked Clinton whether she had the personal appeal to best her opponent, Obama interjected with, "You're likable enough, Hillary." The backhanded compliment may have drawn nervous laughter in the auditorium, but it prompted a major backlash in the days to come. Clinton supporters painted Obama as cruel and insensitive, and voters handed him a stunning defeat in New Hampshire just a few days later.
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