By Marcella Bombardieri, Globe Staff
CONCORD, N.H. -- On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton is trying to turn her legendary unpopularity with Republicans into an advantage in the presidential race.
Essentially, she said at a house party here Thursday, the right-wing has already thrown everything they have at her, so there's nothing left to dig up. That point appears to be aimed especially at her chief rival, Barack Obama, who has spent far less time in the national spotlight and thus hasn't yet had his entire life subjected to exhaustive "opposition research."
"The tactics... will be to drive up the negatives of whoever our nominee is, and it will all be fresh information," said Clinton, speaking to about 100 people gathered in the backyard of a Victorian home. "It will all be, 'Oh you didn't know? Let us tell you. Let us paint a caricature...' Whereas I have the somewhat mixed, but I think rather fortunate blessing, of already starting with those negatives."
She also raised the specter of another terrorist attack between now and next November, which would put additional pressure on Democrats because they are traditionally seen as weaker on national security.
"It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, "What if? What if? But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world. I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well."
That latter comment is raising eyebrows among some commentators, who said it conflicted with her past criticism of Republicans using the "terror card" to win elections.