IF THURSDAY'S appearance before a mostly female audience at Haverford College highlighted Sen. Hillary Clinton's softer side, yesterday's speech to a bleacher-stomping crowd of Radnor High School students was designed to project her strength.
And it doesn't hurt to have a couple of macho Navy men standing by your side to hammer home that message.
"One tough woman," was how U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a former admiral who served in Bill Clinton's administration, described the Democratic presidential candidate.
About 1,300 students and Clinton supporters packed the sweltry gymnasium, creating a raucous atmosphere more akin to a high-school basketball game than a political rally.
The New York senator was joined on the dais by retired Rear Admiral David Stone, who said she would "restore the United States to the moral high ground that we've always operated at."
Clinton, whose campaign is banking on a solid victory over Sen. Barack Obama in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary, reiterated her pledge to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq within two months of taking office and questioned whether the Illinois senator could handle the pressure of the Oval Office.
"I know that some of my opponent's supporters and my opponent are kind of complaining about the hard questions," she said, referring to Wednesday's debate at the National Constitution Center. "Well, having been in the White House for eight years and seeing what happens in terms of the pressures and the stresses on a president, that was nothing.
"I'm with Harry Truman on this. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," added Clinton, to loud applause.
"And just speaking for myself, I am very comfortable in the kitchen."
Obama's camp released a statement yesterday criticizing Clinton's "blatant hypocrisy." She has made similar complaints about the fairness of previous debates.
Clinton's speech centered on her plan to get U.S. troops out of Iraq and to beat back the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
"I am committed, upon taking office, to ask my secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and my security advisers to give me a plan that will enable me to begin to withdraw our troops from Iraq starting within 60 days," she said. *