WELLESLEY, Mass, Nov 2 (Reuters) Democrat Hillary Clinton urged women voters to rally behind her campaign against ''the boys club of presidential politics'' two days after male rivals attacked her repeatedly at a debate.
The front-runner among Democrats seeking the presidential nomination in the November 2008 elections -- and the only woman seeking the job -- rallied enthusiastic students at her alma mater Wellesley College, a prestigious liberal arts school outside Boston.
Clinton, 60, graduated in 1969.
''In so many ways, this all women's college prepared me to compete in the all boys club of presidential politics,'' the former first lady told hundreds of students yesterday.
''We need to shatter that highest glass ceiling,'' added Clinton, who is trying to become the first woman president. ''We can make history.'' As she sought to mobilize student voters with a nationwide campaign, her words alluded to the pummeling she took on Tuesday night against six male candidates at the Democratic debate in Philadelphia.
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, both trailing Clinton by double-digits in national polls, attacked the New York senator's honesty, leadership and ability to win the November 2008 election.
Edwards' communications director Chris Kofinis shrugged off the Clinton campaign's complaint that other Democrats had gone after her at the debate.
''Senator Clinton once again took multiple positions on multiple issues,'' Kofinis said in a statement on Thursday. ''We understand that the Clinton campaign isn't happy about that, but instead of smoke and mirrors, how about some truth-telling?'' But Wellesley students welcomed Clinton like a superstar.
Students danced in the aisles as she kept them waiting more than an hour, and punctuated her speech with foot-stomping cheers and roars of approval.
Clinton, who has been criticized by rivals for originally voting to authorize the Iraq war, compared campus life today to her experience as a college student in the 1960s, protesting the Vietnam War.
''We were embroiled in a war that many of us opposed,'' she said. ''We were uneasy about our future, uncertain about America's role in the world and unwilling to trust a government that didn't share our values. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?'' Student Maya Dolgin, the head of Wellesley's ''Students for Hillary,'' was impressed.
''I hope when we leave school, be it at the end of this year or after four years, we will be just as ready to change the world,'' she said.
Reuters BJR VP0415